Louisiana Declares Emergency Reopening of Red Snapper Season

State agencies determined recreational anglers did not reach their allowable quota during the regular red snapper season so are reopening recreational harvest again.

Angler holding red snapper
Louisiana has reopened the red snapper season. Bob McNally

The regular red snapper recreational fishing season ended in Louisiana in mid-September. But state officials say more snapper can be taken by the state’s anglers to meet the snapper quota set by fisheries authorities earlier in the year.

This time the Louisiana red snapper limit is increased to four fish per person, per day. Angling for them lasts for eight days, running from 12:01 a.m. Friday, October 7 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, October 14.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Jack Montoucet signed a declaration of emergency to reopen the Gulf Coast State’s recreational red snapper season for the eight extra days.

According to LDWF, the agency closed the season on Sept. 19 to allow staff an opportunity to analyze harvest limits. State red snapper reel data indicate that 39,216 pounds of the 809,315-pound quota allowed at the start of the season is still for harvest to Cajun anglers.

Recent effort and landings have been low enough to allow for state emergency declaration for an eight-day extension with a higher bag limit.

Louisiana recreational angling interests and federal NOAA Fisheries have a long history of crossed swords over regulations governing red snapper harvest in the Gulf of Mexico.

It boils down to state agencies managing fisheries within their controlling waters, and the federal government (NOAA) commanding control.

Coastal Conservation Association Conservation Director Ted Venken said earlier this year that that NOAA believes its data is the only right data for red snapper.

“Rather than continue to insist it is always the smartest entity in the room, NOAA Fisheries should work on being a better partner to the Gulf states as well as the angling public, and commit to getting to the bottom of wild data discrepancies [of red snapper catches] before cramming down damaging, punitive measure[s].”

Venker is upset about NOAA discounting recent snapper data meticulously collected by Gulf States like Louisiana that shows recreational angler catches have implemented detailed mandatory catch reporting.

This is the basis for Louisiana reopening its snapper season for an additional week to sport anglers. Careful monitoring of their catches showed the state allocation quota for red snapper was not yet met when the season closed in mid-September. So anglers can reap an additional snapper harvest in October without impacting red snapper numbers in Louisiana.

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