LWFC proposes removal of shark closing season
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed a notice of intent at its Aug. 4 meeting to remove the closed shark season for recreational and commercial anglers. As of now shark season is closed for 3 months of the year from April to June for recreational and commercial possession. Clarifying possession of sharks means harvesting a legal shark and retaining it for consumption or sale. The proposed new rule would remove the three-month closed season.
There are a few reasons behind the proposal, the first being that in recent years the quota has not been fully utilized by commercial fishers in state waters. In federal waters, there is no closed season for commercial shark fishing, but to be allowed to fish in federal waters, expensive permits are required. This caused inequities between commercial fishermen who could access federal waters and those who could not. The closure also essentially affected the total shark harvest for much longer than just 3 months. Most anglers would switch to shrimp or another species at the end of the closed season.
Another reason for the proposal is that the original reasoning behind the closure is no longer there. The closure was to protect breeding sharks due to low population levels at the time, but thanks to conservation and proper harvesting practices, the number of harvestable sharks is back to a healthy level. This reason also plays a role in the third reason of the proposition.
Now that the sharks that can be caught are at healthy levels, many anglers are facing more depredation than before. Anyone who has caught snapper in recent years can tell you that it seems to be every other fish that gets shared these days. This factor, along with simply allowing recreational anglers to have more opportunities, is the recreational reasoning behind the proposal. It should be noted that only Louisiana has a closed season for sharks, while federal waters and other Gulf States have no such closure.
To submit comments, contact Jason Adriance at 504.284.2032 or [email protected].
Current Recreational Shark Regulations in Louisiana
- Atlantic sharp and bonnethead sharks – No size limit – One per person per day in total; no one may possess a shark that exceeds the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or the duration of a trip
- Small coastal sharks, large coastal sharks and pelagic sharks (except silky, sand gray and shortfin mako sharks) – 54 inches minimum fork length – One per vessel per total voyage; no one may possess a shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or the duration of a trip; no silky or sand sharks; no prohibited species
- Shortfin Mako – Males: 71 inches minimum fork length; Females: 83 inches minimum fork length – One shark per vessel per trip in total of groups of small inshore, large inshore or pelagic sharks (see above), including shortfin mako; no one may possess a shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or the duration of a trip; no silky or sand sharks; no prohibited species
- Sharks prohibited – Atlantic Angelfish, Sand Tiger, Dusky, Bigeye Sand Tiger, Sixgill, Bigtooth Sawfish, Bigeye Fox, Smalltooth Sawfish, Narrowtooth, Caribbean Reef, White* , caribbean sharpnose, basking, septgill, galapagos, bigeye sixgill, shorttail, mako longfin, bignose, whale sharks and night sharks* A person may fish but not retain white shark with rod and reel only in as part of a catch and release program, provided that the person releases and releases such fish immediately with minimal injury. Recreational harvesting of gray and silky sharks (ridgeback sharks) is prohibited.