Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission sets three-day-per-week season to extend through September in defiance of Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Offshore anglers launching out of Louisiana can begin hauling in red snapper on March 24 this year — more than two months before the expected opening of the federal red snapper season in federal waters.
That’s because a notice of intent to take Louisiana waters out of compliance with federal fishing regulations issued back in June has gone into effect, officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries’ said today (Feb. 7).The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission announced their intention in June to set a red snapper season that would begin March 24, with fishing allowed every Friday through Sunday thereafter in all state-controlled offshore waters.
The three-day-per-week state season will continue through September.
LDWF’s Randy Pausina said today during the Commission’s monthly meeting that the only thing standing in the way of that proposal going into effect was printing of the regs in the Louisiana Register, in which all regulations and laws must be published. That printing would happen this week, Pausina said.
The daily possession limit for the season will be three red snapper with a minimum length of 16 inches, Pausina said.
Historically, Louisiana’s boundary extended only three miles into the Gulf of Mexico, but Commission members in June also passed a notice of intent to extend the boundaries of the state to three marine leagues (10.357 miles).
That action was based on 2011’s Act 336, which recognizes that the Louisiana Gulf-ward boundary historically consists of three marine leagues and designates that boundary to be enforced by state law regarding the protection and restoration of coastal lands, waters and natural resources and regulation of activities affecting them.
However, there is some uncertainty about the commission’s move, since a part of Act 336 states that the legislation will not go into effect until recognized by the U.S. Congress, which to date has not happened.
Despite those questions, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham has said his agency’s Enforcement Division would only enforce state laws within the three-league boundary.
However, his agency warned fishermen to “use caution and their own personal judgment when fishing beyond the three-mile boundary that is currently recognized as federal waters, as it is fully expected that federal agents will continue to enforce federal law.”
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