Letter asks for snapper control

Four Gulf governors sign request

The politics of managing fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico took another dramatic turn last week when governors of four of the five Gulf states signed a letter asking Congress to adopt whatever measure needs to be taken to allow the Gulf states to take control of the red snapper fishery in waters off their coasts.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared federal fisheries management of the species in the Gulf to be “ineffective” and seeks a measure that would turn around the negative impact federal management has had on their citizens and their states’ coastal economies.

In part, the letter stated: “After three decades under ineffective federal management, our citizens are left with a nine-day season for this iconic fish, and that is just an unacceptable outcome.”

Jindal’s letter further states: “Our own (Louisiana) Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has worked constructively with user groups like the Coastal Conservation Association and shown how proper management can foster our wildlife resources to be vibrant economic engines for Louisiana.

“We should not have to settle for over-arching, sub-par management of these resources by the federal government. The Gulf states have all proven they can do a far better job not only creating healthy fisheries, but providing greater access to them for our citizens. We are calling on Congress to give us the opportunity to do so.”

Florida’s Scott further stated: “As one of the top fishing destinations in the world, no one understands Florida fisheries better than state and local communities. The current unilateral, regulatory framework administered by the federal government for Red Snapper lacks flexibility and has undermined the expertise of our state fishery officials and local fishing communities. State officials, working in partnership with local communities are far better suited for protecting red snapper, while providing local economies with reasonable standards that allow families to pursue jobs in Florida’s bountiful waters.”

Perry cited Texas’ continued noncompliance of the federal regulations in its nine-mile state boundary waters that he said proves Texas’ “ability to manage and improve the health of fisheries in the Western Gulf, including red snapper. Establishing state-based management provides a pragmatic approach to regional management of this important resource.”

The governors noted that red snapper stocks had rebounded to the point that defied the federal management schemes that allows fewer and fewer fishing days with “no hint of willingness from NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries to deviate from this present, unsatisfactory course.

“As governors of Gulf states, we believe this confusing management is just the latest evidence of a federal management system that is irretrievably broken.

“We seek to establish a better fishery management approach for Gulf red snapper.”

After setting a 27-day recreational red snapper season earlier this year, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council director Roy Crabtree reacted to plans by Louisiana, Texas and Florida to set their own seasons in state waters by lowering offshore seasons to nine days for Louisiana, 12 days for Texas and 21 days for Florida, while allowing Alabama and Mississippi 28 days.

Waterfowl survey

For the second straight year, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Waterfowl Study section is teaming with LSU’s School of Renewable Natural Resources to conduct a Louisiana waterfowl hunters.

LDWF Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds said last week that 5,000 randomly selected waterfowl hunters were mailed either a printed survey to be completed and mailed back or a postcard with an Internet pass code that will allow the hunter to complete an on-line survey.

He said the survey is designed to determine waterfowl hunting activity, satisfaction with new zones, new zone boundaries, potential season dates for future waterfowl hunting seasons, and attitudes on particular policies.

Reynolds said hunters not receiving the survey notice will be able to go to the LDWF’s website, http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov, and respond to the survey.

He said the study is trying to “engage as many Louisiana waterfowl hunters as possible and increase participation in the regulatory process.”

Reynolds has added an incentive for hunters to respond to the mail-out survey by offering that all hunters responding will be entered in a drawing for the option of choosing from a 2013 September Teal Season at White Lake Wetland Conservation Area; a Remington 887 Nitro-Mag 12-gauge shotgun; or a Cabela’s Brush Buster GORE-TEX 4-in-1 parka or wading jacket.

For information, contact Reynolds at (225) 765-0456 or by email: lreynolds@wlf.la.gov.

Up north

The LDWF has added 247 acres along Bayou Bartholomew in Morehouse Parish adjacent to Chemin-a-Haut State Park.

The new area will be the Ben Lilly Conservation Area, named after the Louisiana outdoorsman who guided then President Teddy Roosevelt through the state in 1907.

The LDWF used $300,000 to purchase the land from The Nature Conservancy. According to the LDWF announcement, the land had an appraised value of $495,000.

LDWF secretary Robert Barham said the area needs work. When improvements, including an access road and boat launch, are completed, the area will provide canoeing, kayaking, birdwatching, hiking, nature photography, fishing and seasonal hunting.

Cliff on the loose

Pierre Part touring bass pro Cliff Crochet made national news this week after talking about this week’s Bassmaster Central Open tour stop on the Red River in the Shreveport-Bossier City area.

It’s the same location where Guntersville, Ala., pro Chris Lane won the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, but comes 14 months after Lane’s three-day, half-million dollar, 51-pounds, 6-ounces catch.

While Crochet will be hitting the Red River after competing in the Bassmaster Elite tournament winding up on Bill Shoals Lake in Arkansas, he said reduced prefishing time isn’t a problem.

“I’ll be shooting from the hip, but I enjoy that,” Crochet said. “A lot of times in a tournament, you keep thinking, ‘This is what happened in practice,’ and you base your decisions in the tournament on that. You’re playing on what happened two or three days ago instead of what’s really going on. Sometimes that burns you. If you don’t have that practice, you just react to what you see, and that’s the best way to fish.”

He said returning to his home state is always a plus.

“It always puts a smile on my face when I get to fish a B.A.S.S. tournament in Louisiana,” Crochet said, adding he believes Central Open anglers will see much smaller daily weights, in the 9-11 pound range, than the 15-18 pound stringers that showed up in last year’s Classic.

“It’ll be a good tournament,” Crochet said. “The biggest deal I’m looking at is water temperature. The water temperature should be 60 or above, so that will mean most any [pattern and technique] will play. It should be a spawn/postspawn situation.”

Other Elite Series pros competing in Shreveport this week are former Classic champion Mike Iaconelli along with Elite pros Stephen Browning; Keith Combs; Dennis Tietje , of Roanoke; Clark Reehm , of Shreveport; Keith Poche; James Niggemeyer; Scott Rook; Kevin Short; and Pete Ponds, of Mississippi.

Launch is 6:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday with weigh-ins at Red River South Marina the first two days. The final day weigh-in at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City.

Lagniappe

  • Madison Grimm’s painting of canvasback was selected the winner of the 2013 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Competition. Grimm, 6, of Burbank, S.D., received $5,000.
  • The National Shooting Sports Foundation is making $100,000 available to local Boy Scouts of America councils to encourage those local ground to expand target shooting and marksmanship among their member scouts.

The NSSF announcement mandates that councils applying for a grant “must specifically earmark funds for shooting sports programs and provide matching funds at least equal to the grant request.”

There are 50 grants maxed out a $2,000 each for the first 50 qualifying applicants. For other details, go to the NSSF website: http://www.nssf.org.

  • West Marine has $30,000 set aside for local groups for improving or conserving marine environs in or near their communities.

Between five to 10 grants totaling $500-$5,000 per group will be awarded.

Applications and grant details are available at WM website: http://www.westmarine.com/bluefuture.

The application deadline is May 1.