L.D.W.F. News

L.D.W.F. News Release

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Closes State Waters to Harvest of Gag Grouper

Release Date: 01/06/2011

Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission announced the recreational harvest of gag grouper in state waters will be prohibited effective immediately.  The latest stock assessment for the species indicates that gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico are overfished.  

Federal fisheries managers recently announced a temporary rule that closes Gulf federal waters to recreational fishing for gag grouper.  The closure will remain in place while they develop long-term measures to improve gag grouper populations.  

The commission's actions allow regulations in state waters to complement regulations of the National Marine Fisheries Service for federally managed waters.  NMFS and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council typically request consistent regulations for Louisiana waters to enhance effectiveness and enforceability of regulations.

For more information, please contact Ashley Wethey at (225) 765-5113 or awethey@wlf.la.gov.  
 

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Approves Oyster Lease Relocation Program

Release Date: 01/06/2011

Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved the Oyster Lease Relocation Program for select oyster leases that have been non-renewed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) since 1998.  This new program will move 19 oyster leases, comprising 700 water-bottom acres to a relocation area of approximately 1,483 acres east of the Mississippi in the open waters of Breton Sound.

Under existing LDWF policy, oyster leases that lie completely within the public oyster seed grounds are not renewable following the expiration of the original 15-year lease term. The Oyster Lease Relocation Program offers the 19 identified leaseholders who are subject to this non-renewal policy, an opportunity to obtain a replacement lease of equal size in a new area.

The relocation area was determined jointly by LDWF and the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, in consultation with the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. Prior to being chosen, the relocation area received extensive investigation to determine its appropriateness in terms of suitable water bottom, firmness, salinity regime, and conflicts with existing oil and gas infrastructure (pipelines, wells, etc.).
    
Following a public comment period, the Commission will consider ratifying a final rule for the Oyster Lease Relocation Program at its May meeting.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Laura Deslatte at (225) 610-2363 (ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov).

Oyster Season Remains Closed East of the Mississippi and in Hackberry Bay

Release Date: 01/06/2011

Originally scheduled to open Nov. 15, season opening will be reevaluated at Feb. 3 Commission meeting

The 2010-2011 oyster season for public seed grounds east of the Mississippi River and in Hackberry Bay will remain closed for now. The season, which was originally supposed to open Nov. 15, 2010, has been under evaluation each month at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meetings since November. The Commission has elected to keep the season closed each month in order to allow oyster spat (young oysters less than one inch in length) to develop.  

Samples taken by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists throughout the fall and winter of 2010 indicated the presence of a reproductive event in some areas east of the Mississippi River. The reproductive event resulted in the presence of significant numbers of oyster spat.  This spat set represents potential rebound of the oyster resources in this area for future years.

Significant oyster mortalities were also previously documented during summertime biological sampling in some areas, which further decreased an already stressed oyster resource. The continued season delay will help to protect and conserve the remaining oyster resources located in these areas.  

The public grounds east of the Mississippi River contribute approximately 28 percent of all oyster harvest in Louisiana on an annual basis, but are currently at some of their lowest oyster availability levels in the last 20 years.

All remaining public oyster areas throughout the coast will continue with the current oyster season framework as set by the Commission at their August 2010 meeting.  Most of these areas opened to harvest on November 15, 2010.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Laura Deslatte at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov or (225) 610-2363.
 

Small Coastal Shark Season Opens January 1

Release Date: 12/30/2010

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced that the 2011 season for small non-sandbar coastal sharks in Louisiana state waters will open January 1, 2011.  LDWF Secretary Robert Barham sets the season in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service and shark seasons in federal waters.

The non-sandbar small coastal shark group is composed of bonnethead, Atlantic sharpnose, blacknose and finetooth sharks.  The 2010 non-sandbar small coastal shark season was previously closed in November.

The non-sandbar small coastal shark (SCS) fishery is very small in Louisiana and is primarily incidental in nature.  The annual Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico quota for SCS is approximately 1 million pounds.

The 2011 non-sandbar large coastal shark season will open on March 1, 2011.

Information on current regulation for non-sandbar small coastal sharks including trip limits, allowable species, requirements for permits and landings is available here: http://www.gulfcouncil.org/fishing_regulations/index.php.

There is no allowable harvest at any time of prohibited species, which include: Basking, white, bigeye sand tiger, sand tiger, whale, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish, Atlantic angel, Caribbean sharpnose, smalltail, bignose, Caribbean reef, dusky, Galapagos, narrowtooth, night, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, longfin mako, sevengill and sixgill sharks.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at owatkins@wlf.la.gov or 225-610-8660.

Agenda Set for January Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting

Release Date: 12/28/2010

The next regular Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 6, 2011, in the Louisiana Room at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA.

The following items will be discussed:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of Minutes of December 2, 2010
  3. Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege
  4. To announce 2009-2010 Employee Rewards and Recognition Winners
  5. To receive and hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/December
  6. To hear General Information on upcoming Hunting Seasons, WMAs, Rules and Regulations
  7. To hear presentation on Wildlife Division GIS
  8. To consider Declaration of Emergency to open the Primary Public Oyster Seed Grounds East of the Mississippi River and the Hackberry Bay Seed Reservation
  9. To consider a Notice of Intent to Modify a Portion of the Public Oyster Seed Grounds to allow for Oyster Lease Relocation
  10. To consider a Declaration of Emergency for the 2011-2012 Commercial Reef Fish Seasons
  11. To consider a Declaration of Emergency for the 2011-2012 Recreational Reef Fish Seasons
  12. To consider a Declaration of Emergency for the 2011-2012 Commercial King Mackerel Season
  13. To consider a Declaration of Emergency for the Closure of the Recreational Fishery for Gag Grouper in Louisiana Waters
  14. Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman
  15. Set May 2011 Meeting Date
  16. Receive Public Comments
  17. Adjournment

Shrimping Closure in Portion of State Offshore Waters Takes Effect at Sunset, Today Dec. 21

Release Date: 12/21/2010

Portion of Zone 1 where shrimp season has been extended
Portion of State Offshore Waters to close to shrimping at sunset on 12/21/2010

Closure helps protect smaller shrimp so they may increase in size, value; closure previously approved at Dec. 2 Commission meeting

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will close a portion of state offshore waters to shrimping at sunset today, December 21, 2010.

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission authorized this closure at its Dec. 2 meeting but also provided authority to LDWF Secretary Robert Barham to delay the closure if marketable quantities of white shrimp were available for harvest. However, current biological sampling data indicate that significant numbers of small white shrimp are found in these waters so these waters will be closed to shrimping.

That portion of state outside waters, south of the Inside/Outside Shrimp Line as described in LA R.S. 56:495, from the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal at 92 degrees 18 minutes 33 seconds west longitude to the U.S. Coast Guard navigation light off the northwest shore of Caillou Boca at 29 degrees 03 minutes 10 seconds north latitude and 90 degrees 50 minutes 27 seconds west longitude will close to shrimping at sunset today, Dec. 21.

Provisions in state statute temporarily exempt the minimum possession count of 100 (whole shrimp) count per pound on white shrimp from October 15 through the third Monday in December. Following Dec. 20, it became illegal to possess white shrimp smaller than 100 count per pound onboard a vessel.

All state outside waters east of the U.S. Coast Guard navigational light off the northwest shore of Caillou Boca, as well as state outside waters west of Freshwater Bayou Canal will remain open to shrimping. The Department will continue monitoring the sizes and abundance of shrimp in these offshore waters, so that other actions to close or re-open waters may be taken based on the availability of harvestable shrimp in these areas, while protecting the large numbers of very small white shrimp.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For additional information please contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov or (225) 765-5113.
 

LDWF and State Officials Finalize $2.56 Million Agreement with BP for Fishing License Revenue Losses

Release Date: 12/21/2010

Funds will cover decline in recreational fishing license sales, associated federal funds and oyster tag revenue losses

Yesterday, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham and state officials finalized plans with British Petroleum to pay $2.56 million to LDWF for lost revenue associated with the decline in recreational fishing license sales, associated federal funds and oyster tag sales.

“This marks a critical step on the road to recovery for LDWF and Louisiana’s fishing communities. These funds are especially crucial now, more than ever, as our Department continues to fulfill its mission, while also working to help fishing communities rebound from the impact of the BP oil spill,” said Secretary Barham. “We are open for business here in Louisiana. I encourage all anglers to visit us for some of the best fishing in the world.”

The agreement with BP was finalized yesterday after discussions between BP officials, LDWF and representatives from the Louisiana Attorney General’s office.

As a result of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began in April 2010 and significant fishing closures, LDWF suffered a loss of almost $1.7 million from a decline in recreational fishing license sales. The Department also saw a loss of nearly $450,000 in federal funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and more than $200,000 in revenue from a decline in oyster tag sales in 2010.

Historically, June through October is the high season for recreational fishing license sales. These sales decreased from nearly $7.3 million in the period from April 21 through November 30 in 2009, to approximately $5.5 million in 2010 for the same time period – roughly a 24 percent decrease.

BP analyzed revenue from recreational fishing license and oyster tag sales in March and April of 2009 to determine a trend that was applied to projected sales in 2010. This figure demonstrated what revenues would have been but for the BP oil spill. BP officials then subtracted the actual revenue from the projected amount to determine lost revenue.

Officials with LDWF continue to work with BP on claims to fund an oyster cultch program and a saltwater hatchery. The Department previously announced agreements with BP for a $13 million fisheries impact study and $18 million for seafood safety monitoring and testing, and $30 million for seafood safety marketing efforts.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov. 

Gulf Saver Bags Placed at Pass A Loutre WMA In Effort to Rebuild Wetland Habitat

Release Date: 12/20/2010

Gulf Saver Bags are positioned to help restore receding marsh habitat at Pass a Loutre WMA.
LDWF worked with volunteer groups Dec. 17 to rebuild marsh grass habitat utilizing Gulf Saver Bags at Pass a Loutre WMA.
Packaged with native marsh grasses and nutrients, Gulf Saver Bags are being tested as a method to restore marsh habitat.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) in collaboration with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) and the Restore the Earth Foundation, Inc., implemented a new coastal restoration technique at Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area (WMA) with the phase one installation of Gulf Saver Bags on Dec. 17.

“Seasonal tropical storm impacts, the recent oil spill and years of the Mississippi River delta altered by a controlled flow of sediment have taken their toll on the Louisiana coast,” said Robert Barham, LDWF secretary. “The oil impacted wetlands at Pass a Loutre are critical areas where marsh restoration efforts are needed.”

 

A crew of volunteers assisted LDWF Coastal and Non-game Resources Division personnel distribute 400 Gulf Saver Bags at the WMA that forms the southeast tip of Plaquemines Parish where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The wetland habitat within the WMA provides a natural home and breeding grounds for shrimp, crabs, oysters, and more than five million migratory birds. The southeastern Louisiana shoreline wetlands and barrier islands are the first line of defense protecting the area's populations against storm surge and tidal fluctuations.

The Gulf Saver Bag is a package of native marsh grasses with its own supply of natural nutrients and oil eating micro-organisms combined to support, feed and protect the new growth of marsh grasses in areas of need. The bag is standard biodegradable burlap weighing 20 pounds when packed. Placement by hand from small transport vessels minimizes disruption of shallow sediment along deteriorating coastal land mass.

Volunteers assisting with the Pass a Loutre project included representatives of CRCL, Restore the Earth Foundation, For the Bay (San Francisco non-profit group founded by Louisiana natives), Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Bethesda Green (Maryland), Global Green (New Orleans) and Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration.

 

“We are excited about this Gulf Saver restoration solution and look forward to educating volunteers from all over the nation about the importance of our coastal wetland habitats”, said Natalie Snider, Science Director of CRCL.

Pass a Loutre WMA encompasses 115,000 acres and is the oldest wildlife management area in Louisiana. Visit www.wlf.la.gov for information on LDWF’s coastal wildlife management areas.

Funding for phase one of the Pass a Loutre project was provided by For the Bayou, Benefit the Bayou, Bethesda Green, the Ittleson Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, State Farm and individual donors. For more information on the Gulf Saver Bag project, visit www.gulfsaversolutions.com. 

For more information, contact Bo Boehringer 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov.
 

LSPMB to Meet this Wednesday December 15

Release Date: 12/13/2010

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board will meet this Wednesday, December 15 at 1:00 p.m. in the UNO Advanced Technology Center, 2021 Lakeshore Drive, suite 210 in New Orleans, LA. The agenda is as follows.

  1. Call to order
  2. Roll call
  3. Approval of minutes from October 13, 2010
  4. Reports
    1. Guest Presentations
      1. Shane Carmichael
      2. Acadiana Lafayette Contingency
    2. Executive Directors Report
    3. Treasurers Report
      1. Update on BP funds
  5. New Business
    1. Grant writing for taskforces (shrimp, oyster and crab)
    2. Social Media update- Zehnder
    3. Letters to board members who have more than 3 consecutive absences
    4. Elections of Executive Board for 2011-2012
    5. Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute/Sub Committee discussion (Executive, Funding, Legislative, Education and Marketing).
    6. National Seafood Marketing Coalition
    7. Boston Seafood Show
  6. Set Next Meeting
  7. Adjourn

For additional information please contact Ashley Roth at aroth@wlf.la.gov or 504-286-8735.

Shrimp Season to Remain Open in Certain Waters East of the Mississippi River and Close in a Portion of State Offshore Waters

Release Date: 12/13/2010

Portion of Zone 1 where shrimp season has been extended
Portion of State Offshore Waters to close to shrimping at sunset on 12/21/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham has extended the fall inshore shrimp season in a portion of state inside waters east of the Mississippi River that was scheduled to close December 21, 2010. Biological sampling data and trip ticket reports indicate that marketable quantities of white shrimp still remain available for harvest in these waters. Typically, the inshore shrimp season closes in late December when only smaller, less valuable shrimp are being caught by recreational and commercial fishermen. However, extended closures in state waters throughout the summer and into fall prevented the shrimp stock from being harvested at levels seen in previous years. The area to remain open to shrimping is that part of Shrimp Management Zone 1 in Lake Pontchartrain, Chef Menteur Pass, Rigolets Pass, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), that part of Lake Borgne seaward of a line extending one-half mile from the shoreline, and a portion of Mississippi Sound. The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission had earlier ordered that the fall inshore shrimp season in the open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds as described by the “double-rig” line close March 31, 2011.

The Commission at its December 2 meeting approved closing a portion of state offshore waters to shrimping effective at sunset December 21, but authorized LDWF Secretary Barham to keep these waters open if necessary to allow continued harvest of shrimp by commercial and recreational fishermen.

The offshore area typically closed to shrimping each year is unique as it typically serves as a refuge to a large number of small over-wintering white shrimp. Additionally, provisions in state statute temporarily exempt the minimum possession count of 100 (whole shrimp) count per pound on white shrimp from October 15 through the 3rd Monday in December. Following December 20, it becomes illegal to possess white shrimp smaller than 100 count per pound. As temperatures drop, smaller sized white shrimp that had been occupying coastal lakes or bays migrate into these waters. Closures during the winter help to protect smaller shrimp so they may grow to larger, more valuable sizes.

As water temperatures warm in spring, large numbers of these over-wintering white shrimp re-enter coastal lakes and bays and quickly grow to very large sizes evidenced by reported statewide white shrimp landings of 11 million pounds in May 2009, worth approximately $14 million.

The offshore closure, if instituted on December 21, would include the portion of state outside waters, south of the Inside/Outside Shrimp Line as described in LA R.S. 56:495, from the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal at 92 degrees 18 minutes 33 seconds west longitude to the U.S. Coast Guard navigation light off the northwest shore of Caillou Boca at 29 degrees 03 minutes 10 seconds north latitude and 90 degrees 50 minutes 27 seconds west longitude.

If allowed to take effect, the closure will become effective Tuesday, December 21 at sunset.

All state outside waters east of the U.S. Coast Guard navigational light off the northwest shore of Caillou Boca, as well as state outside waters west of Freshwater Bayou Canal will remain open to shrimping. The Department will continue monitoring the sizes and abundance of shrimp in these offshore waters, so that other actions to close or re-open waters may be taken based on the availability of harvestable shrimp in these areas, while protecting the large numbers of very small white shrimp.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF. 

For additional information please contact Martin Bourgeois at mbourgeois@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2401.

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