Baton Rouge, LA – Louisiana anglers can breathe a sigh of relief for now. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will not close the red snapper season as some had feared. In fact, there is a chance that the season will last until Sept. 4, the official closure date.
According to estimates from LDWF’s LA Creel, the states near real-time data program, if anglers continue to catch red snapper at the current rate, the season may last through Labor Day.
“The current harvest rates are certainly lower than we were expecting, so we are able to keep the season open at this time,” said Assistant Secretary for Fisheries Patrick Banks. However, he said, it is very unlikely the current average weekly catch of 66,000 will hold.
Louisiana has a self-imposed limit of approximately 15 percent of the total Gulf of Mexico catch. The self-imposed limit equals about 1.04 million pounds of red snapper for 2017.
According to the latest LA Creel estimated harvest rate Louisiana anglers would only catch 902,616 pounds of red snapper by Sept. 4.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has ordered LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet to close the red snapper season when it appears Louisiana’s catch will exceed the 1.04-million-pound limit. It is the goal of LDWF to manage the state’s catch responsibly in order to improve its chances of the federal government allowing Louisiana to oversee its own red snapper season out 200 miles from its coast.
Louisiana is part of an agreement reached earlier this summer with four other Gulf states and the U.S. Department of Commerce that allow recreational anglers to fish out 200 miles from the Louisiana coast for red snapper for 39 days. The altered season opened June 16-18 continued on June 23-25, June 30-July 4, July 7-9 and will continue July 14-16, July 21-23, July 28-30, Aug. 4-6, Aug. 11-13, Aug 18-20, Aug. 25-27, and Sept. 1-4.
Under the agreement that includes Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, there would be no red snapper fishing in state waters – out nine miles from the Louisiana coast – on Mondays through Thursdays, except on July 3-4 and Sept. 4. Anglers are limited to two fish, measuring at least 16 inches per day.
*For more information on the 2017 red snapper landings estimates go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/page/41176-red-snapper-long-range-plan-facts/redsnapperharvestupdateforwebsite-071317.pdf