Keith Lusher 06.13.23
In an ongoing attempt to tighten up redfish regulations in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries surveyed 13,000 randomly selected Louisiana residents with fishing licenses to gather opinions on what options should be taken to improve the numbers of redfish that make it to offshore waters to spawn. The department estimates that the current escapement rate is 20% which is lower than 30%. Escapement is the percentage of Redfish that pass through the recreational fishery (there is no commercial fishery allowed for Red in Louisiana) from inshore waters as juveniles and make it into the spawning stock offshore. The established escapement rate limit for management is 30%; Louisiana’s escapement rate is currently 20%, indicating too few Redfish are surviving to make it offshore to spawn.
The results of the survey, which was conducted by e-mail and website, showed that 60% of Louisiana residents with fishing licenses said they support current redfish regulations. Louisiana’s current regulations on redfish is a 16 to 27-inch size limit with a five fish per person daily bag limit. The survey contained basic questions concerning redfish and also listed different types of regulations that fishermen would prefer. The survey focused on things like management tools, slot limit size, width of slot limit, a strict slot or modified slot and bag limits.
The data analysis, presented by economist Dr. Jack Isaacs during the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s monthly meeting held on May 4, revealed that only thirteen percent, equivalent to 3,900 individuals, responded to the survey. The results show a clear lack of urgency in the minds of Louisiana Anglers.
In a separate survey that was sent to members of the Louisiana Charter Boat Association, the data was more emphatic, showing 82% were in favor of banning or greatly reducing bull red (redfish larger than 27 inches) harvesting. Fifty-nine percent were in favor of reducing the size limit and going to a four-bag limit.
Dr. Jack Isaacs, an economist who compiled the data and presented it to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at the May 4 meeting said “If the commission decides to move forward with changes in the regulations there is going to be a lot of people pressing about this issue.”