Duck season announcement set

Thursday is the fourth most important day on the calendar for tens of thousands of Louisiana duck hunters.

It’s the day when they’ll learn their dates and daily limits for what appears to be an extension of the longest 60-day hunting-seasons run since federal waterfowl managers started putting limits on days and bag limits 80 years ago.

It’s the second year of a three-zone experiment for state’s wild waterfowlers, and last year’s addition of a Coastal Zone to what was for 30 years East and West zones appears to have worked in the hunters’ favor.

Still there could be movement in dates, at least that’s what State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds told the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission earlier this month.

Reporting on the findings of three different Wildlife and Fisheries’ surveys conducted after the end of the 2012-2013 season, hunters reportedly want more days earlier in the federally allotted framework than they’ve had in past seasons.

The state’s three zones allows for separate openings and closing dates, and because ducks show up earlier in the Coastal and West zones, those seasons open earlier. The East Zone opener is usually the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

With Thanksgiving late in November this year, it’s possible hunters could see the earliest opening days in more than 30 years for the coming season.

There’s also the possibility of more December days, which means the seasons would have to end earlier than the last-Sunday-in-January close in the federal rules.

All those possibilities reflect hunters’ comments in the surveys.

Reynolds will present the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ recommendations in the three zones during Thursday’s commission meeting on Grand Isle.

There will be a drawing for prizes for the hunters who participated in the waterfowl survey.

More on the commission

Thursday’s 9:30 a.m. LWFC meeting at the state’s Marine Lab on Grand Isle has a loaded agenda.

The duck and goose seasons are tops for hunters, but there is an item calling for an emergency declaration to repeal the ban on hunting in a portion of Orleans Parish.

On the fisheries side, commercial and recreational shrimpers await commission approval for opening dates of their fall inshore season. From all indications, LDWF studies show a good crop of white shrimp moving into the state’s inside waters.

Other fishery items include posting notices to establish state limits on tripletail and modifications of rules covering the newly esblished Recreational Offshore Landing Permit; tuna and reef-fish reporting regulations; continued and possible additional closures in the wake of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster; and, hearing final public comments on amendments to state regs for using yo-yos and other mechanical fishing devices.

The commission will also act on an emergency declaration to open the 2013 season on taking oysters from public seed grounds.

Where are the buoys?

The LDWF sent out a plea last week asking for information on the location of missing mooring buoys set out in 2011 on the Independence Island Reef Project.

All six buoys anchored along the reef are gone. The buoys not only identified the reef, but allowed fishermen to tie off on them to reduce the damage anchors would do to the joint public-private effort some three miles northeast of Grand Isle in Barataria Bay.

Led by donations from Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana and backing from the LDWF, some 8,000 tons of limestone was spread over a 50-acre site that once was Independence Island. It’s the state’s largest single inshore artificial reef project.

The LDWF asks anyone with information about the buoys to call Operation Game Thief’s toll-free hotline (800) 442-2511. Any information will be held in confidence.

Seasons reopen

Recreational offshore fishermen will have two species added to their list Thursday when the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council reopens greater amberjack and opens a gray triggerfish season.

A commercial gray triggerfish season opens the same day.

The new recreational gray triggerfish season’s regs allow a two-fish recreational daily limit and a 12-fish commercial trip limit with a 14-inch fork-length minimum-size limit. That size limit runs from the nose to the center of the fork at the tail of this species.

The greater amberjack daily limit if one per angler with a minimum size limit of 30 inches fork length.

Giant salvinia control

A LDWF report released last week shows the spread of giant salvinia in the Calcasieu River has subsided as the salinity of the river has increased during the summer months.

The report cited a “... wetter than usual spring caused a decrease in salinity levels, creating an environment more conducive for plant growth.”

Under optimum conditions, giant salvinia can double its mass every four days, but LDWF field staff has found plants in the river’s saltier water are either dead or dying.

The report also read: “Allowing salinity to kill the (giant) salvinia proves to be the most cost-effective method in achieving maximum control of the plant. The department is focusing their control efforts on the upper end of the river.”

The LDWF introduced a weevil into the spread of the nonnative plant and has found the weevil damage in smaller locations along the river.