Louisiana Tightens Redfish Regs


Widely considered the best redfish waters in the world, Louisiana is implementing new regulations to protect its red drum stocks.

The new daily creel limit is four fish per angler with an 18- to 27-inch slot limit. Keeping redfish longer than 27 inches is prohibited, and retention of redfish by captain and crew aboard for-hire vessels is prohibited. Enforcement of these new regulations began June 20.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the red drum stock is not overfished (depleted) but it is being overfished and depletion is occurring. There has been no commercial fishery for red drum in Louisiana waters since 1988, and recreational landings are at the lowest level observed since the 1980s.

Explained basically, most redfish harvested are juveniles living in inshore waters. Too many are being harvested before they reach spawning age, when they move offshore to join the spawning stock. Currently, the spawning stock has numbers within the acceptable range set by Louisiana; however, not enough juvenile redfish are surviving to replenish the spawning stock. It has been in decline since 2005.

These management changes are expected to increase the numbers of redfish that make it to the offshore spawning stock each year, and target levels of these transitioning fish are projected to be reached in three to five years. With juvenile fish leaving the estuaries between 4 and 5 years of age and the red drum lifespan of 39 years, it could be 2050 before the spawning stock is stabilized.

For more information, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

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