Louisiana clarifies its red snapper catching rules
Now that Louisiana’s claimed nine-mile limit – along with Mississippi and Alabama – has technical federal recognition, state officials are clarifying some important management details.
The state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has passed a resolution which declares state rules for management of snapper and other reef fish do not extend beyond the traditional three-mile limit, and that less restrictive federal rules apply from three to nine miles out.
Louisiana, however, still maintains its own expansive declarations of seasons for snapper within the full nine miles.
The resolution “should provide confidence to our commercial reef fish fishermen that LDWF has no intention to modify normal operations of the commercial reef fish sector,” said Louisiana Assistant Secretary of Fisheries Randy Pausina.
“Our agency is committed to extending reef fish access to our private anglers through nine miles, but we want our commercial fishermen to know that stricter state gear rules will not apply to their fishery inside of this boundary,” said Charlie Melancon, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Although the resolution specifically relates to commercial fishing of red snapper, it reinforces a practice already outlined for recreational snapper fishing. Of greatest importance to recreational fishermen, the resolution bolsters the state’s commitment to its nine-mile limit claim.
The resolution to some degree clarifies what has been an ongoing tug of war between the state and the federal government.
State officials also used the opportunity to make clear that anglers in possession of red snapper are still answerable for violations of federal laws, even within the claimed nine miles.
On Jan. 8, 2016, former LDWF Secretary Robert Barham announced that the snapper season would begin and remain open until further notice. The debate regarding the fish’s numbers has gone on for decades.