The commercial fishery for shallow-water groupers in Louisiana waters will close at 12:01 a.m. on October 10, 2005, and will remain closed until the opening of the spring commercial shallow-water grouper season on January 1, 2006. The shallow-water grouper assemblage includes red, black, gag, yellowfin, scamp, and yellowmouth groupers, rock hind, and red hind.
The decision was made by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Dwight Landreneau, following notification by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico is closed for the commercial harvest of shallow-water groupers from 12:01 a.m. October 10 until 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2006, and per a request from NMFS.
Regulations for the shallow-water grouper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico include a commercial quota for red grouper and for the overall assemblage. Rules established in Federal waters require that the commercial shallow-water grouper fishery will close for the remainder of the year when either the shallow-water grouper quota or red grouper quota is reached, whichever comes first. Based on reported landings, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that it will close the shallow-water grouper commercial fishery in Federal waters off Louisiana, and requested that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enact compatible rules. NMFS requested consistent regulations for Louisiana waters to enhance effectiveness and enforceability of regulations.
Secretary Landreneau was authorized by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at their January, 2005 meeting to take these actions to provide consistent regulations between state and adjacent Federal waters, and noted that the season closure is necessary to prevent overfishing of the species assemblage.
The Commission also authorized LDWF Secretary Dwight Landreneau to change or modify opening and closing dates for commercial deep-water grouper seasons in Louisiana waters to comply with changes or modifications in season dates in federal waters. The Commission's actions ensure that regulations in state waters will mirror regulations of NMFS for federally managed waters.
After the closure, all commercial harvest, possession, purchase, barter, trade, sale or attempts to purchase, barter, trade or sell shallow-water groupers is prohibited until 12:01 a.m., January 1, 2006, the date set for the opening of the 2006 season. The prohibition on sale/purchase of shallow-water grouper during the closure does not apply to those that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor provided appropriate records in accordance with R.S. 56:306.5 and 56:306.6 are properly maintained.
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