The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission announced a shrimping closure in a portion of Louisiana offshore territorial (outside) waters at its Jan. 5, 2006 meeting. The action protects small white shrimp currently over-wintering in these areas as well as additional over-wintering white shrimp expected to recruit to these waters.
The closure area includes 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 eastern shore of the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island as delineated by the Channel red buoy line. This closure will become effective Monday, Jan. 9, 2006 at 6 a.m. All state outside waters east of the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island as well as state outside waters west of Freshwater Bayou Canal will remain open to shrimping.
According to LA R.S. 56:498.B(1), the possession count on saltwater white shrimp shall average no more than 100 (whole shrimp) count per pound except during the time period from Oct. 15 through the third Monday in December when there shall be no count. Current sampling conducted by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Marine Fisheries Division biologists has indicated that white shrimp in this portion of Louisiana outside waters do not average 100 count per pound minimum legal size. This action protects small white shrimp and provides increased opportunity for growth to a larger more valuable size.
The commission also authorized the LDWF secretary to close any part of remaining state outside waters if biological and technical data indicate the need to do so and to re-open any closed area when the closure is no longer necessary. The secretary is also authorized to open and close special shrimp seasons in portions of inside waters where such a season would not detrimentally affect developing brown shrimp.
With the exception of that portion of Shrimp Management Zone 1 extending north of the southern shore of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), including Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne all inside waters remain closed to shrimping. Those portions of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds as described by the double-rig line (LA R.S.56:495.1.(A)2 currently open to shrimping will close March 31, 2006 at 6 a.m.
According to LDWF trip ticket report data, preliminary landings statistics indicate that Louisiana shrimp landings through October, 2005 totaled approximately 79 million pounds (all species combined/heads-off weight). Shrimp landings remain approximately 31.8 million pounds below levels reported through October of 2004.
The opening dates for the 2006 spring shrimp season in inside waters will be considered at the May commission meeting to be held at LDWF headquarters.
EDITORS: For more information, contact Martin Bourgeois at 225-765-2401