The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed a resolution to clarify the effects of the extension of the state water boundary from three to nine nautical miles for reef fish management purposes, as established by the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The resolution clearly states that fishing gear used by the reef fish fishermen in the commercial and recreational sectors will not change within these new boundary waters. The fishermen of Louisiana will have the benefit of Louisiana’s reef fish management to 9 nautical miles, but there will be no change to the method of take or gear restrictions.
“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 LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon.
Recently signed into law, the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act includes a provision to temporarily extend Louisiana state waters to nine nautical miles for reef fish management purposes. Because federal commercial fishery regulations are not as strict as state laws, the commercial fishing sector quickly grew concerned with this temporary change. “The resolution signed today 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 Randy Pausina, Assistant Secretary of Fisheries.
LDWF reminds charter fishermen with federal reef fish permits that they are only allowed to fish these new boundary waters when the federal recreational reef fish season is open. Federal reef fish permit regulations restrict the permit holder to the most restrictive season. Please also note that red drum are not considered reef fish; therefore, there is no change to regulations impacting this species.
Fishing License Requirements
All persons (commercial or recreational) fishing for reef fish in the three to nine nautical mile boundary should have the appropriate Louisiana state fishing licenses. Though commercial gear regulations have not changed and remain consistent with federal regulations, these waters are still considered Louisiana state waters for all reef fish management purposes.