June 22, 2017

Louisiana: Legislature Sends Clear Message on Behalf of Recreational Anglers

With the recent conclusion of the Louisiana legislative session, two resolutions related to marine fisheries management clearly demonstrated the legislature’s support for recreational angling in the Sportsmen’s Paradise state.

Introduced by Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus member Senator Bret Allain on May 3, LA SCR 67 memorializes Congress to pass legislation or adopt policies allowing Louisiana to manage the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery out to two hundred nautical miles off the coast of Louisiana.

The increasingly shorter recreational red snapper seasons, despite a healthy and growing stock of fish, has many recreational anglers calling for management of the fishery to be turned over to the five Gulf States, which have demonstrated they can effectively manage both recreational and commercial fisheries. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) LA Creel, an angler harvest data collection program, has proven much more accurate at estimating recreational harvest of red snapper than the federal Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). The more timely and accurate estimates generated by LA Creel has allowed the LDWF to extend their state water seasons while not exceeding their historic recreational allocation. The resolution passed both chambers on a unanimous vote.

Introduced on June 1, LA HCR 113 urged the LDWF not to follow through with a proposal to seek an experimental permit that would have allocated a percentage of red snapper to individual anglers. The proposal, though intended to move Louisiana towards management of the recreational red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters, could very well have led to further restricting access for Louisiana’s anglers in the form of catch shares. Instead, the resolution urged LDWF to, “aggressively pursue the opportunity to gain approval for state management of the red snapper fishery in the state and federal waters off the Louisiana coast in a manner that enables all fishermen, not a select few, to enjoy the bounty of fish available to anglers in those waters.” The resolution passed the House 86-5 and the Senate on a unanimous vote. Fortunately, LDWF has tabled the proposal for now.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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