Commercial fishing for large coastal sharks to close

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

Commercial fishing for large coastal sharks, as defined by Louisiana rule (L.A.C. 76:VII.357), will close in Louisiana waters on March 17, 2010, at 11:30 p.m. The decision was made by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham under the authority given by the Commission in its rule LAC 76:VII.357.M.2 which allows the secretary to declare a closed season. The National Marine Fisheries Service will also close the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico at this time.

The commercial season will remain closed in federal waters until 30 days after promulgation of the 2011 seasonal rule for harvest of sharks in the Federal Register.  Since the opening date of the season in federal waters is not known at this time, no date has been set for the reopening of the commercial large coastal shark fishery in Louisiana state waters.

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 large coastal shark group is composed of the great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, nurse shark, blacktip shark, bull shark, lemon shark, sandbar shark, silky shark, spinner shark and tiger shark.

Vessels that have been issued or possess a federal shark research permit may continue to operate under the conditions of that permit, which includes the presence of designated NOAA Fisheries observers aboard the vessel for the duration of the trip, until the quota for the federal shark research fishery is achieved.

No person shall purchase, barter, trade, or exchange shark in excess of the designated trip limits or from any person who does not possess a commercial state shark permit or federal commercial directed or incidental limited access permit or federal shark research permit, if applicable.

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 season for the commercial harvest of small coastal shark in Louisiana waters remains closed at this time.