When the state began a re-stocking program, hunting newly transplanted deer was strictly prohibited. And rightly so.
But the goal was always to re-establish hunting once deer populations grew to sustainable levels. And today deer thrive throughout the state, serving as the foundation of Louisiana’s vibrant hunting community.
That is the mark of a successful recovery plan.
Offshore anglers have been victims of a “recovery plan” of another ilk, with federal fishery managers steadily restricting harvest even as red snapper populations explode throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
For years, federal managers have progressively shortened the season while increasing the minimum size limit, lowering the daily creel and generally tending toward lower TAC (total allowable catch).
All the while, anglers were finding snapper teeming around the rigs off the Louisiana coast - even as the feds contended the species was still in trouble and relied on science even they admitted was flawed.
Fishery biologists now generally admit there are more snapper in the Gulf than ever in history. While bumping the overall TAC higher, they shaved the 2012 season to a mere 40 days.
That’s not a recovery plan; it’s insanity.
And the absurdity of the situation is multiplied with the one-size-fits-all approach federal managers are using in the Gulf. That’s just wrong: Florida and Louisiana are not the same, and never will be. Louisiana anglers should never be prevented from fishing it’s wealth of snapper because a derth of fish off another state’s coast.
The issue has finally come to a head, with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission last month proposing an extended weekend-only fishery in state waters and signalling they would try to extend state control to more than 10 miles off the coast instead of the current three-mile limit.
Extending state waters is questionable, since it is based on state law requiring congressional approval (which hasn’t happened). But commissioners and WWF Secretary Robert Barham, who advocated the move, are to be commended. Red snapper management is a sham based on faulty science that consistently undersells the health of the stock and takes a Gulf-wide approach that punishes successful recovery.
So it’s time the states bordering the Gulf stand up to the idiocy of federal regulations that are out of date and in complete contradiction to what is happening in the real world.
Will extending the state’s boundaries withstand legal scrutiny? Maybe not, but perhaps Secretary Barham said it best.
“If we do not (do this), do you think anything will occur?”