As Louisiana’s redfish stock shows signs of decline, CCA believes it’s time to protect the breeders.
Louisiana is the redfish capitol of the world. Anyone who has fished here knows this to be the case. People come from all over the globe to experience the thrill of catching one of these beautiful and powerful fish, and for years in Sportsman’s Paradise, it has been relatively easy to do so.
But in the last decade or so, the stock is showing significant signs of decline.
According to recent studies from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, redfish in Louisiana are experiencing overfishing. The SPR (spawning potential ratio) has been declining since 2005 and is at its lowest level since the mid ‘80s. Escapement (fish joining the spawning stock) and recruitment (juveniles entering the fishery) are also in significant decline. Recreational harvest levels are at their lowest since the days of the gill nets.
We have a problem with redfish, and it’s time to take action. The first step should be to stop killing and harvesting bull reds.
Right now, it is legal to harvest one redfish over 27 inches per angler each day. We support an end to this allowance, making it illegal to take any reds over 27 inches in Louisiana.
In fact, Senate Concurrent Resolution 46, by Senator Bret Allain and 19 co-authors, would direct the WLF Commission do just that…make the killing of red drum over 27 inches off limits and create penalties and fines for those who violate the rule. CCA Louisiana fervently supports this resolution and conservation action. The resolution passed the Senate unanimously earlier this week and is currently being considered in the House of Representatives.
As we all know, there are many factors that have contributed to the decline of the redfish stock, and all of them should be addressed. Those factors include the massive menhaden harvest and bycatch in Louisiana waters, marine habitat degradation, and commercial netting. CCA and our partners will continue working to address those factors, as to ignore them would be to ignore a large part of Louisiana’s redfish problem.
In the meantime, we believe anglers should lead the way by releasing all redfish over 27 inches.
If SCR 46 passes, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will still have the final task of establishing the regulation. When they do, they will likely consider other management options as well, like bag and minimum size limits for recreational anglers. At that time, they should also address the other factors that are impacting the stock. CCA expects that the issue will come up for a vote at the WLF Commission later this summer. We will keep our members posted.