Wildlife commission to know more about red snapper limits next week

Recreational red snapper anglers will know more about their 2013 opportunities after a Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting next week in Tampa, Fla.

That news came from Department of Wildlife and Fisheries assistant secretary Randy Pausina during Thursday’s monthly Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge.

Pausina said while the council and the National Marine Fisheries Service are becoming open to the idea of regional management — a term that will allow the five Gulf states to take control take of seasons on federally managed species — the prospects of a 27-day recreational red snapper season looms for this year after a 40-day season in 2012.

While the GMFMC will announce the season in federal waters later this year, the commission has already approved a Friday-through-Sunday recreational red snapper season in state waters beginning the weekend before Easter and running through the last weekend in September.

Last October, the LWFC approved a move to extend state fishery waters from the decades-long three-mile limit out to three marine leagues, or a distance of more than 10 miles off Louisiana’s coast.

“There’s no way we will have anything (regional management) in place this year,” Pausina told the commission. “We will know more about where the council and National Marine Fisheries (service) stands after next week’s meeting.”

Pausina said he will return to the commission in February to make further recommendations on Louisiana’s recreational red snapper season. Anything other than adhering to the NMFS’ season dates and daily limits would make Louisiana a noncompliant state joining Texas and possibly Florida, Mississippi and Alabama in rejecting the federal red snapper dates and limits.

Pausina confirmed there has been a move among the five Gulf states to agree on a the same nine-mile state-waters boundary that Texas and Florida have. Like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have a three-mile limit into the Gulf of Mexico.

The LWFC also approved a move that gives LDWF secretary Robert Barham the authority to extend or reject 2013-2014 NMFS reef-fish harvest regulations. The commission also approved 2,000-pound trip limit for the commercial take of amberjack and approved a commercial king mackerel season opener for July 1.

Other LWFC action included:

  • Approving a Notice of Intent to add four species of reptiles to the restricted list, a move that bans live trapping or killing these species without a LDWF permit. Added to the list were the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the Louisiana pine snake, the black pine snake and the Mississippi gopher frog;
  • Learning that the LDWF is operating on a $203,517,662 budget for fiscal year 2013 and that the department projects a $212.166 million budget for 2014, and plans for using the Louisiana Artificial Reef Fund;
  • Learning the LDWF’s Wildlife Division will announce its 2013-2014 plans for the resident-game hunting season in February, and those season could include continued deer-season restrictions in the Maurepas Basin, Plaquemines Parish and a portion of St. Bernard Parish;
  • Learning that there was a single boating fatality in the state during December to bring the state’s 2012 boating fatality count to 30, down from 2011’s 39;
  • Hearing a report from Louisiana Seafood Promotion Board executive director Will Smith;
  • And, approving its May meeting for May 2 in Baton Rouge.