Commercial fishing for non-sandbar large coastal sharks to open in La. waters

The following is a news release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Commercial fishing for non-sandbar large coastal sharks as defined by Louisiana rule (L.A.C. 76:VII.357) will open in Louisiana waters at 12:01 a.m., Feb. 4, 2010.  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will also open the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico at this time.

The commercial seasons in Louisiana state waters will close at 12:01 a.m., April 1, 2010, per existing seasonal rules, unless a season closes in adjacent federal waters or is projected to close before that date, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary is requested by NOAA Fisheries to take action to enact consistent seasonal regulations.  The commercial seasons will remain open in federal waters until 80 percent of the federal quota for a given fishery has been harvested in the Gulf of Mexico.

During the open season, commercial harvest of non-sandbar large coastal sharks and pelagic sharks shall be regulated by the existing federal and state rules regarding trip limits, allowable species, and requirements for permits and landings, as laid out in federal and state regulations.

The non-sandbar large coastal shark group is composed of the great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, nurse shark, blacktip shark, bull shark, lemon shark, silky shark, spinner shark and tiger shark.  While sandbar shark are a member of the large coastal shark group, only specifically designated federally permitted vessels may take sandbar shark while operating under conditions of that permit.

The commercial fishery for small coastal sharks will remain closed at this time, until a determination is made for the opening and rules for harvest of those species in federal waters off of Louisiana.

There is no allowable harvest at any time for all prohibited species, which include 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 decision was made by LDWF Secretary Robert Barham under the authority given to the secretary of the Department by the Commission in its rule LAC 76:VII.357.M.2 which allows the secretary to establish seasons for harvest of shark.