Commission authorizes secretary to alter commercial reef fish seasons

A declaration of emergency, regarding the 2010-2011 commercial fishing seasons for reef fish was issued by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at the Jan. 7 2010 meeting, as recommended by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The commercial fishing seasons for all reef fish species listed in LAC 76:VII.335, "Reef Fish – Harvest Regulations" continue to remain open as of January 1 of each year unless otherwise provided for in LAC 76:VII.335 or LAC 76:VII.337, or as a result of actions by the Secretary.  These commercial fishing seasons include closed seasons for some species and species groups as listed in LAC 76:VII.335 and in LAC 76:VII.337, including prohibition on harvest of goliath and Nassau groupers.

In addition, the Commission authorized the Secretary to close the season for the commercial harvest of any species or group of species of reef fish in Louisiana state waters if he is informed by the Regional Administrator of NMFS that the applicable commercial quota has been harvested in the Gulf of Mexico, and if he is requested by NMFS to enact compatible regulations in Louisiana state waters.

The Secretary was also authorized to re-open and close those commercial seasons in Louisiana state waters if the commercial season dates in the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico have been modified, and that NMFS requests that the season be modified in Louisiana state waters.  Such authority shall extend through January 31, 2011.

The Commission's actions ensure that regulations in state waters will 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.