The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed a notice of intent at their August 4th meeting to remove the closed season of sharks for both recreational and commercial fishermen. As of now, shark season is closed for 3 months of the year, from April to June for recreational and commercial possession. To clarify possession of sharks means the harvest of a legal shark and keeping it for consumption or sale. The proposed new regulation would remove the closed three-month season.
There are a few reasons behind the proposal, the first being that in recent years that the quota had not been fully utilized by commercial fishermen in state waters. In federal waters there isn’t a closed season for commercial shark fishing, but to be allowed to fish in federal waters pricy permits are needed. This was causing inequity between commercial fishermen who could access the federal waters and those who could not. The closure also essentially affected the total harvest of sharks for much longer than just the 3 months. Most fishermen would move onto shrimp or another species by the time the closed season was done.
Another reason for the proposal is that the original reasoning behind the closure is no longer around. The closure was to protect breeding sharks because of the low population levels at the time, but due to conservation and proper harvest practices, the numbers of sharks that are harvestable are at a healthy level once again. This reason also roles into the third reason of the proposal.
Now that the sharks that can be harvested are at healthy levels, many anglers have been dealing with more depredation than before. Anyone who has fished for snapper in recent years can tell you, that it seems to be every other fish that’s shared nowadays. This factor along with just letting recreational anglers have more opportunities is the recreational reasoning behind the proposal. It should be noted that only Lousiana has a closed season for sharks, while federal waters and other gulf states do not have such a closure.
To submit comments, contact Jason Adriance at 504.284.2032 or [email protected].
Current Lousiana Recreational Shark Regulation
- Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead sharks -No Size limit – One per person per day in aggregate; no one may possess any shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip
- Small coastal, large coastal, and pelagic sharks (except silky, sandbar, and shortfin mako sharks) – 54 inches minimum fork length – One per vessel per trip in aggregate; no one may possess any shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip; no silky or sandbar 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 aggregate from the small coastal, large coastal, or pelagic shark groups (see above), including shortfin mako; no one may possess any shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip; no silky or sandbar sharks; no prohibited species
- Prohibited sharks – Atlantic angel, sand tiger, dusky, bigeye sand tiger, sixgill, largetooth sawfish, bigeye thresher, smalltooth sawfish, narrowtooth, Caribbean reef, white*, Caribbean sharpnose, basking, sevengill, Galapagos, bigeye sixgill, smalltail, longfin mako, bignose, whale, and night sharks*A person may fish for but not retain white shark with rod and reel only under a catch and release program, provided the person releases and returns such fish to the sea immediately with a minimum of injury.Recreational harvest of sandbar and silky sharks (ridgeback sharks) is prohibited.