The Wild Side.Jan. 6, 2013

Anybody remember the days when Louisiana’s offshore fishermen didn’t complain about something?

Red snapper have been the focus of most complaints.

And it’s easy to admit recreational fishermen have lots to complain about, notably the inability or unwillingness of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council hierarchy and the National Marine Fisheries Services to recognize that Louisiana’s offshore man-made and natural reefs are overrun with red snapper.

During recent years when red snapper have rebounded to numbers most offshore fishermen have never seen, the daily limits have been reduced and the number of season days have been cut to the point where fishermen are wondering why have a season at all.

Remember when the recreational red snapper season lasted through the summer? In the past years, that season has been reduced from 60, to 50, and to 40 days.

On Thursday, Wildlife and Fisheries’ assistant secretary Randy Pausina told the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission that word on the fishery street is that the rec season will be 27 days this year.

Wow!

That hardly makes it worth the effort to get boats and tackle ready for trips.

Maybe that’s the point where some folks who’ve invaded the federal management system want us fishermen to reach, where it’s hardly worth the effort.

Yes, there are people in our country who believe we shouldn’t have the right to fish, that the recreational sector doesn’t mean enough in the grand plan to warrant more than a tin ear when we speak of the inequities of federal fishery schemes.

Maybe the problem starts at the beginning management bureaucracy.

Maybe the big problem is that the GMFMC and NMFS are under the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Yes, Commerce where it’s easy to understand that any venture not commercial in nature automatically is relegated to a secondary position, especially when you look at all the attention “Commerce” and the NMFS pay to the commercial side of fisheries management not only in the Gulf of Mexico but also around the country.

Yes, there are outcries from recreational fishermen around the country about NMFS management plans for recreationally caught fish species.

Sometime soon, when all these recreational fishing complaints again find their way to Congress, maybe it’s time we ask for a change in fishery management organization rather than trying to change the way the Department of Commerce decides to penalize recreational fishermen.

Maybe it’s time to change the engine on this train, instead of the usual way our federal government tries to solve problems and simply makes the train longer.

2013 Calendar

The Advocate Outdoors 2013 Calendar will be published in the Jan. 13 edition.