Commercial fishing for large coastal sharks, as defined by Louisiana rule (L.A.C. 76:VII.357), will remain closed in Louisiana waters until 12:01 a.m. July 1, 2008.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has closed the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico through the first trimester of 2008 (January through April), and through the second trimester until Amendment 2 of the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan is adopted by NMFS. Louisiana has a continuing closed season for harvest of all sharks in state waters for the months of April through June.
During the closed season, all commercial harvest, possession, purchase, exchange, barter, trade, sale or attempt to purchase, exchange, barter, trade or sell large coastal sharks or their fins is prohibited.
The groups of sharks are as follows:
Large Coastal Sharks: great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, nurse shark, blacktip shark, bull shark, lemon shark, sandbar shark, silky shark, spinner shark and tiger shark
Small Coastal Sharks: bonnethead shark, Atlantic sharpnose shark, blacknose shark and finetooth shark
Pelagic Sharks: porbeagle shark, shortfin mako, blue shark, oceanic whitetip shark, thresher shark
Prohibited Species: basking shark, white shark, bigeye sand tiger, sand tiger, whale shark, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish, Atlantic angel shark, Caribbean sharpnose shark, smalltail shark, bignose shark, Caribbean reef shark, dusky shark, Galapagos shark, narrowtooth shark, night shark, bigeye sixgill shark, bigeye thresher shark, longfin mako, sevengill shark and sixgill shark
The small coastal shark and the pelagic shark seasons will remain open from Jan. 1 until April 1, at which time those seasons will close in Louisiana state waters.
All Louisiana state waters out to the seaward boundary of the Louisiana Territorial Sea are closed to the recreational and commercial harvest of all sharks between April 1 and June 30 of each year. A holder of a Federal Commercial Directed or Incidental Limited Access Shark Permit may legally harvest sharks from Federal waters beyond the Louisiana Territorial Sea and bring those sharks into Louisiana waters for sale within the provisions of that Federal Shark Permit.
Effective with this closure, no person shall commercially harvest, purchase, barter, trade, sell or attempt to purchase, barter, trade or sell sharks from the closed area. Effective with the closure, no person shall retain or possess any sharks in the closed area. Sharks taken incidental to shrimp or menhaden fishing in the closed area, that are retained on the vessel as part of the harvest, may be retained only as a mixed part of the total harvest, and shall not be retained, held, purchased, bartered, traded, exchanged, sold or attempted to be purchased, bartered, traded, exchanged or sold.
The decision was made by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Bryant O. Hammett Jr. under the authority given to the secretary of the department by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in its rule LAC 76:VII.357.M.2, which allows the secretary to declare a closed season. Hammett acted upon a request from the NMFS to enact compatible regulations in Louisiana state waters until the NMFS finalizes new rules for harvest of large coastal sharks in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
It is not certain if the rules for harvest of large coastal sharks will be finalized by July 1, so additional seasonal closures may be requested by NMFS to maintain compatible regulations with federal waters until the rules are established for Amendment 2.
For more information, contact Harry Blanchet at 225/765-2889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.