Saturday, December 09, 2023

LWFC amends proposed redfish regulations

At their monthly meeting on Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) amended proposed regulations for red drum that they had passed in July.  The change in the Notice of Intent (NOI) was necessary after a legislative committee rejected it last month.

As our readers probably know by now, LDWF biologists have assessed that redfish numbers are in decline due to a number of causes. A change in regulations is necessary to restore both escapement rate and Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) to above the conservation standard for the species.

Current regulations are 5 fish daily limit with a 16-27 inch slot, and one fish per day over the slot. The NOI passed in July called for a 3 fish daily limit, 18-24 inch slot, and no overslot fish allowed.  These changes would have resulted in a 2 year recovery for escapement rate and an 11 year recovery for SPR.

In November, the NOI was sent to a legislative committee for final approval. CCA Louisiana successfully argued for rejection of the NOI, much to the dismay of fly fishing and kayak fishing interests and other conservationists who supported the measure. CCA requested that the Commission pass a more liberal limit of 4 fish daily, 18-27 inch slot (no overslots). This proposal would result in a 29 year SPR recovery… unacceptable to everyone else!

Outside of CCA, the majority of opposition was for the restrictive slot limit.  After much discussion, and unanimous comments in support of, the Commission passed a compromise amendment which expanded the slot from 6 inches to 9 inches but kept the 3 fish per day limit. The amended NOI is now:

– 3 fish daily creel, 18″-27″ slot with no overslots

This new NOI will result in a 4 year recovery for escapement rate, and a 16 year recovery for SPR to the conservation standards.

Now the amended NOI goes back to the Legislative Natural Resources Oversight Committee. It’s expected that opponents to this NOI will again lobby against it. The FFI Gulf Coast Council and it’s allies will make every effort to insure that conservation wins out.