COMMISSION MODIFIES RULES FOR HARVEST OF GRAY TRIGGERFISH, RECREATIONAL HARVEST OF GREATER AMBERJACK, AND REQUIRED DEVICES FOR REEF FISH HARVEST

Release Date: 08/07/2008

At its Aug. 7 meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission issued a declaration of emergency and notice of intent to modify rules for the harvest of gray triggerfish, the recreational harvest of greater amberjack, and issued a notice of intent to establish rules regarding devices required to be on board and in use when harvesting or possessing reef fish in federal waters.  These actions will provide consistent regulations with those in place in federal waters offshore of Louisiana.


The minimum size limit for gray triggerfish has been increased from 12 inches total length to 14 inches fork length, for both recreational and commercial harvesters.


The minimum size for greater amberjack for recreational harvesters has been increased from 28 to 30 inches fork length.  The commercial minimum size limit remains at 36 inches fork length.


Captain and crew members shall not harvest or possess greater amberjack, as well as red snapper or grouper of any species while operating as charter vessels and headboats as defined in Federal Regulations 50 CFR Part 622.2.  Their bag limit is zero for all of these species.


The notice of intent also proposes rules that would require that for a person on board a vessel to fish for or possess Gulf reef fish in the Gulf EEZ (the waters outside Louisiana State waters), the vessel must possess on board and such person must use the devices as specified below.
 a. Non-stainless steel circle hooks. Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits for reef fish.
 b. Dehooking device. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks embedded in Gulf reef fish with minimum damage.  The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process. The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the Gulf reef fish fishery.
 c. Venting tool. At least one venting tool is required and must be used to deflate the swim bladders of Gulf reef fish to release the fish with minimum damage. This tool must be a sharpened, hollow instrument, such as a hypodermic syringe with the plunger removed, or a 16-gauge needle fixed to a hollow wooden dowel.  A tool such as a knife or an ice-pick may not be used.  The venting tool must be inserted into the fish at a 45-degree angle approximately 1 to 2 inches from the base of the pectoral fin.  The tool must be inserted just deep enough to release the gases, so that the fish may be released with minimum damage.


The commission's actions ensure that regulations in state waters will complement regulations of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 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.


Public comments on the notice of intent to modify the permanent rule will be accepted prior to Thursday, Oct. 7, 2008.  Comments should be submitted to Harry Blanchet, Marine Fisheries Division, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, PO Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA  70898-9000 or by email to hblanchet@wlf.louisiana.gov, with "August Reef Fish Notice of Intent" in the subject line.


For more information, contact Harry Blanchet at 225/765-2889 or hblanchet@wlf.louisiana.gov.


2008-219