Taking into account Saturday’s full moon and strong lunar tides predicted for the state’s coastal waters, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to open the spring inshore shrimp season in a large section of the State Shrimp Zone 2 at 6 a.m. Monday.
The vote came after Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ biologists and managers projections that 50 percent of the brown shrimp in the area would have grown to 100 or fewer to the pound sometime between May 12 and May 15. The 50 percent/100-count guideline is usually the trigger to open a season.
Pleadings from commercial shrimpers in the Zone 2 area indicated brown shrimp in the Cocodrie and Dulac areas had grown well beyond 100 count, that brown shrimp were as large as 36-40 count (36-40 shrimp to the pound) in areas like Lake Boudreaux.
The move offered by commission member Billy Broussard from Pecan Island, to open the seasons passed 6-0.
The May 7 opener will be limited to inside waters between South Pass of the Mississippi River west to the Ship Channel at the mouth of the Atchafalaya River.
The rest of Zone 2 from the Atchafalaya River westward, all of Zone 3, from Freshwater Bayou west to the Louisiana-Texas line will open May 21.
That same day, May 21, the entire area of Zone 1, from South Pass of the Mississippi River, east to the Louisiana-Mississippi line will open.
State Shrimp Study leader Marty Bourgeois also urged the commission to reopen the state’s outside waters in the Vermilion Bay area to open at the same time as the inside waters in that area.
Bourgeois said brown shrimp move into the Gulf of Mexico on the stronger tides around the full moon, mostly in the days after the peak of the full moon, and that inshore shrimpers would lose the chance to catch both brown and overwinter white shrimp.
Other commission action included:
- Approving the 2012-2014 resident-game hunting seasons and wildlife management area hunting regulations. This included a Dec. 15-23 with or without dogs for selected areas in the Kisatchie National Forest, and a provision to allow seven new 35-38 caliber rifles to the state’s approved primitive weapons list;
- Approving a Declaration of Emergency to continue the closure of three coastal areas in the aftermath of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. The three are Bay Jimmie in Barataria Bay, waters around Grand Terre Island and the southernmost reaches of the entire Mississippi River delta south of Venice. The closure covers all commercial fishing activity and the recreational take of shrimp and crabs, but allows recreational finfishing;
- Approving a proclamation for May 19-25 as State Boating Week in Louisiana;
- Approving Free Fishing Days (no fishing licenses required) statewide for June 9-10 as part of the June 4-10 Louisiana Fishing Week;
- Applauding the work of the Biloxi Marsh Lands Corporation for another 25-year lease for the 35,643-acre Biloxi WMA in St. Bernard Parish, a move that extends the WMA to a continuous 80-year commitment to the public use of this area;
- Learning from Ducks Unlimited how the more than $300,000 donation from the LDWF was used to enhance wetlands projects in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan;
- Learning that Enforcement Division agents issued 1,336 citations and 575 written warnings across the state during April, when three boating fatalities brought to 12 the state’s 2012 total;
- And, approving its September meeting date for Sept. 6 in Baton Rouge.