The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) adopted a Notice of Intent (NOI) to change the red drum size limit from a 16-inch minimum size limit and a 27-inch maximum size limit to an 18-inch minimum size limit total length and a 24-inch maximum size limit total length. The red drum’s daily take and possession limit will be reduced from five to three fish per day. Additionally, the retention of any red drum above the maximum size limit of 24 inches total length and the retention of red drum by captain and crew on charter or head boats will be prohibited. Charter guides and crew will still be allowed to engage in fishing on charter trips to demonstrate how to catch red drum, but will not be allowed to retain red drum towards any limit on the vessel.
The proposed changes result from biological data that indicate the red drum stock is experiencing overfishing resulting in an escapement rate below the 30 percent minimum limit, leading to a declining biomass. To increase the escapement rate and avoid the stock biomass declining to an overfished condition, management changes are necessary.
Interested persons may submit comments relative to the proposed Rule to Jason Adriance, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000, or via e-mail to [email protected] prior to noon on Thursday, October 5, 2023.
To view the full Notice of Intent, click here.
The Commission’s adoption of a Notice of Intent (NOI) is the first of many steps in promulgating a final Rule, which can take between 90 days and one year. Once adopted, the NOI will be published in the State Register and begin the public comment period. The Commission will consider all public comments received and may make any changes they deem necessary or appropriate. Absent any amendments to the NOI by the Commission, the proposed Rule will be sent to the Legislative Oversight Committee for their review. Upon expiration of the 30-day oversight period, or upon a favorable review by the Oversight Committee, the Rule can be published as final in the State Register.
Why is Escapement Rate Important?
The juvenile portion of the red drum stock is measured through an “escapement” rate. Escapement is the percentage of red drum passing through the recreational fishery (no commercial fishery is allowed for red drum 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 red drum are surviving to make it offshore and eventually to spawn.