Thursday’s decision by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to implement a plan to dramatically change brook trout regulations should have come as no surprise.
This plan, if ratified in the coming months, will reduce the daily creel limit to 15 trout and to keep your catch trout must be at least 13½ inches long.
This is a big change from the current minimum size limits of 25 per angler per day and 12 inches, and while there was no opposition to lowering the daily limit, people were lined up to oppose the increase in size.
Even with the turnover of at least three of the seven chairmen, there has been little debate among commission members since the move was described by marine biologists and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries managers there. more than three years ago.
The only crack in the commission’s armor came when two members, Al Sunseri of New Orleans and Andre Blanchard of Houma, abstained. The five approving the notice of intent were the president Joe McPherson (Woodworth) Bill Hogan (ruston), Kevin Segrera (Abbeville), Brandon DeLeather (Baton Rouge) and Gene Reynolds (doubly).
The release of the notice will allow for at least 60 days of continued public comment, followed by legislative scrutiny in the state Senate and House natural resources committees before the commission’s final ratification, likely at its meeting. January 5 in Baton Rouge.
Opponents of the move are unlikely to garner enough support to move on to a proposal put forward by more than a dozen men in the room to maintain the 12-inch waist limit. But, they could.
To find out the situation, it’s a consensus among biologists, recreational fishers and commission members that something has to be done, and the 15 fish a day has been hammered almost from day one when the staff of the LDWF, led by Jason Adriansaid Louisiana’s brook trout stock may not be able to rebound several years ago under current regulations.
The term used by biologists is “overused” among other things for the data they used to make the proposal.
While some, like Frank Bertrand de Gonzales said the 13½-inch limit would limit a recreational angler’s ability to bring fish home for the table, others representing conservation groups said the new size limit would lead anglers to take more female trout the size of the population spawning.
David Cressonexecutive director of the Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana, said discussions with four “independent” marine biologists have left CCA policymakers questioning the new size limits, not just because of increased pressure on female trout larger, but also the overall survival of the fish caught. measuring less than the proposed new limit.
Retired marine biologist Marty Bourgeoiswho ran the agency’s Shrimp Study section, also called for a 12-inch size limit due to increased mortality from discarded trout.
Chris Macaluso, the director of marine resources for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the reduction in the daily creel limit “is warranted, but recovery expectations are outpacing reality. The 12-inch limit is a good compromise because increased use of live bait (shrimp, cocahoe and croaker minnows) reduces survival, he said.
“And to say the stock is overfished is a (fishery) management term,” he said. “A more accurate description is exhausted, as there are more factors to this problem than anglers catching fish in the water.”
Others during the public comment period said loss of coastal land and an increase in predators were contributing to the species’ population decline.
Data from state biologists, which implies the term “spawning potential ratio” (SPR), is factored into the original proposal calling for catch reductions and an increased size limit.
It is a long held belief among fisheries scientists that the SPR must be at 20% for a species to maintain a healthy stock size. The state’s most recent data shows an SPR of 7%.
It is also noted in the data that most 13½ inch female trout will have a chance to spawn for two spawning cycles, while most small fish will have spawned once.
Cresson said the decision also has an economic component, including the potential to lose a number of fishermen who will lose interest in making trips to the coast when faced with the possibility of bringing fewer or no fish back to their homes. tables. The impact, he said, will be felt in marinas, along with charter operations, tackle shops and other businesses dependent on recreational anglers.
The LDWF has set December 30 as the deadline for public comments. Adriance is the contact. Send written comments to: Jason Adriance, Fisheries Division, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, PO Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000. His email address is [email protected]
Additional information on speckled trout can be found on the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/spotted-seatrout.
There is more
charter skipper Eric Newman weighed in on speckled trout, and more. He said declining trout numbers had led charter boat operators and recreational fishers to target other species, and said a next step would be to study declining rockfish catches.
“Overall, leaving fish in the water is a good thing,” Newman said of the proposed limits for trout, “but this department and the commission needs to move on to rockfish.”
Nearly a month after an Omega Protein purse seine vessel cut nets releasing an estimated 900,000 dead and dying men near Holly Beach, the commission has issued a notice demanding reports of any future occurrences like this as well as the possibility of penalties.
Wildlife and fisheries staff said officers were unable to find the net and the large net was not recovered. The proposal adopted at Thursday’s meeting requires menhaden fishing operators to notify the agency “within two hours of any release of menhaden”, after the incident is escalated to the Law Enforcement Division. LDWF law four days after the nets were cut.
Other provisions include:
- Prohibit the abandonment of menhaden purse seine gear during fishing operations or at sea and establish a 48-hour window to remove all gear before it is considered abandoned;
- Establish marking requirements for gear to help retrieve nets and warn of potential hazards to navigation;
- Require that “every reasonable attempt is made to recover menhaden and bycatch from the environment in the event of a release;”
- And, defining actions like these as being “considered a waste of a fisheries resource subject to civil fine and return and abandonment of gear constitutes a commercial waste violation.”
Further comments can be made to Adriance by noon on January 5th.
With nearly 40,000 pounds remaining in the state’s recreational red snapper allotment, the season is open through Friday with a limit of four per angler.
And, as a reminder, the commercial/recreational closure of the flounder begins on October 15.