Louisiana is among the five Gulf states considering a proposal that could lead to more fishing days for red snapper in federal waters. Under the proposed plan, anglers would be allowed to fish for red snapper on weekends only, possibly beginning as early as June 17. The proposed season would run through Sept. 4 in federal and state waters.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s offer of additional red snapper fishing days in federal waters would be welcomed by many anglers unhappy about the recently ended three-day federal red snapper season.
“This is a solid proposal from the federal government,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Accepting this offer would result in Louisiana anglers having more access to federal waters, rather than the three-day limit that was recently imposed. This is an important step for our anglers, and I am optimistic that we can come to an agreement with the federal government on this proposal.”
The offer does come with tradeoffs. Under the proposal, state waters would be closed during weekdays and only reopen on days when the federal waters are also open. This closure of state waters would only be required under the proposal through Sept. 4. Following Sept. 4, the state could evaluate if state waters could be reopened to private recreational harvest of red snapper.
Authority over the state season is vested in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, although the Commission delegated authority to LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet to make in-season adjustments to the state season for 2017.
Gov. Edwards supports a better federal waters access scenario for Louisiana anglers. These negotiations could result in more access while also preserving the state’s ability to manage state waters for added fishing access. By closely tracking harvest in both federal and state waters, LDWF can continue its effort to keep its red snapper catch around its historical percentage of the overall Gulf red snapper recreational harvest.
“This would be incredibly important to show the federal government that we can manage the harvest of red snapper in both state and federal waters in a responsible manner,” Edwards said.
The Commerce Department proposal is still in the negotiation phase, but the states are expected to make decisions in the next several days. A final decision by the Commerce Department would soon follow.