Wildlife and Fisheries announces stock assessment schedule

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is currently conducting stock assessments on important recreational and commercial fish stocks, including Redfish (Red Drum), in Louisiana state waters.

Stock assessments are computer-modeled simulations of fish populations that incorporate life history metrics (age, growth, reproduction), stock abundance information (survey catch effort), and fishery catch data (harvest and releases from LA Creel) to evaluate past, present, and future stock status. Fishery managers use the stock assessments’ results to determine the stock status (is the stock overfished and/or is overfishing occurring) and to make suitable fishery management recommendations to decision-makers.

LDWF conducts both legislatively mandated stock assessments and non-legislatively mandated stock assessments.

LDWF is conducting a non-legislatively mandated stock assessment of Redfish (Red Drum), using data collected through 2021. This stock assessment report will be available after the scientific peer-review process has been completed in late 2022 or early 2023. Previous stock assessments of Gulf of Mexico Redfish were conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, with the most recent federal assessment conducted in 2000.

Results of the earlier federal assessments were used to establish management thresholds at a minimum 30% escapement rate for juvenile fish from the inshore state fisheries to offshore waters. The most recent escapement rate estimates for Louisiana Redfish were reported in 2006 and indicated the stock was above the 30% escapement rate threshold. The Redfish stock assessment LDWF is currently conducting will provide updated estimates of escapement rates and stock size to determine the current stock status.

Four legislatively mandated stock assessments for Black Drum, Southern Flounder, Sheepshead, and Striped Mullet are conducted every five years.

All stock assessments go through an external peer-review process before being presented to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC). These four mandated assessments will be presented to the LWFC in February 2025 before being provided to the Louisiana Legislature in March 2025.

Stock assessments are also conducted on additional species of importance, such as Blue Crab, and Speckled Trout (Spotted Seatrout). These assessments are typically conducted every three years or as requested by fishery managers or the LWFC.  Some examples of these assessments are:

  • Blue Crab stock assessment was conducted in 2022 using data collected through 2021.
  • Speckled Trout (Spotted Seatrout) stock assessment was conducted in 2021 using data collected through 2020.
  • Oyster stock assessments are conducted annually.
  • Brown and White Shrimp stock assessments are conducted at the federal level Gulf-wide.
  • Gulf Menhaden stock assessments are conducted at the federal level Gulf-wide.

FAQ’s

What does Overfished mean?

Overfished is the condition of a fishery that occurs when the spawning stock biomass of the fishery is below the level that is adequate for a fishery’s recruitment class to replace the fishery’s spawning class.

What does Overfishing mean?

Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish at a rate greater than the species can replenish its population naturally, resulting in the species becoming increasingly underpopulated. This term does not necessarily mean that fish removals through fishing pressure are the cause of low population numbers but means that the fish population can no longer support the current amount of fish removals.

For more information on the Department’s Fisheries Stock Assessments please, visit: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/resources/category/stock-assessments

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