Superior science allows anglers to enjoy federal-waters fishing from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend

On Thursday, May 3rd, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set forth a plan that will create a summer-long federal waters red snapper season in Louisiana. The 2018 season will begin on Friday, May 25 and run seven days a week with the intention of having a season that extends through Labor Day weekend. There will be a daily bag limit of two fish per person and a 16-inch total length minimum size limit..

“This is a great opportunity for Louisiana anglers, and will be a boost to our coastal economies and businesses that depend on anglers,” said Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana Executive Director David Cresson. “Because of this, marinas, lodges, restaurants, tackle shops and other businesses across the coast will benefit. The impact of this summer-long season will be very positive, and widely realized.”

The longer 2018 season is the result of an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) submitted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The two-year EFP allows Louisiana to test state-based management with oversight from the National Marine Fisheries Service out to 200 nautical miles using the proven LA Creel Program. This program will also allow managers the opportunity to evaluate potential differences in effort and catch over the various types of hard structure found in Louisiana’s offshore waters, including structures created through Louisiana’s prolific Artificial Reef Program. 

CCA Louisiana was proud to assist in the development of the final EFP proposal, and believes its approval, along with the careful management of this extended season in 2018 and 2019, is an important step towards the ultimate goal of state management of red snapper and other species. We applaud the efforts of the Wildlife and Fisheries staff and the LWF Commission that led to this important announcement. Credit is also due to Rep. Stuart Bishop and Sen. Bret Allain, who created the LA Creel program four years ago, and who led the charge to have the program reauthorized this year during the Louisiana Legislative session. LA Creel is widely regarded as finest harvest data collection program in the country and has given Louisiana the ability to manage fisheries with an unprecedented level of precision and accuracy. Legislation to reauthorize LA Creel has been approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate and needs only to be signed by Governor John Bel Edwards.

In a letter to Commission Chairman Bobby Samanie earlier this week, CCA National President Pat Murray wrote: “The state data collection systems are a critical component of the EFPs and Louisiana should take special pride in being the driving force behind efforts to improve recreational harvest data and make it available for management on a more timely basis.” Murray continued, “Louisiana’s state-of-the-art creel survey for offshore anglers – LA Creel – was the first such program developed on the Gulf Coast. We are grateful to the Commission for its support of recreational angling and for the vision and tenacity of leaders like Rep. Stuart Bishop and Sen. Bret Allain who made the data program a reality.”

Landings data will be monitored weekly, and adjustments could be made to the season, including the possibility of moving to three-day weekends, to accommodate the goal of reaching the Labor Day weekend. That determination will depend on progress toward our approved harvest target of 743,000 lbs.

To participate in the 2018 red snapper season, anglers must have a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP). The ROLP is free to all anglers and can be obtained at https:rolp.wlf.la.gov.