November 07, 2023
Editor's Note: Members of the American Saltwater Guides Association appeared November 7 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to ensure that the new 3-fish, 18-24-inch limit on redfish is passed into law. Redfish advocates are giving testimony to the joint committee meeting of House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment and the Members of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources to support a plan that would ensure the recovery of redfish stock in 33 years. The new regulations would be the first significant change to redfish regulations in 35 years and would include no guide limits and no harvest of bull redfish.
In July, a crucial decision was made regarding the future of Louisiana’s redfish. The American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA) helped get a proposal on the table that would reduce sportfishing harvest by 55%. However, there is still a public comment period before the proposal becomes law.
According to the 2022 Stock Assessment, the Louisiana redfish population is declining at an alarming rate due to overfishing. In 2009, estimates put the redfish population at slightly over 21 million. By 2021, that number dwindled to 8.7 million.
Prior to a July 6 meeting of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the state was proposing a new slot limit of 16 to 27 inches and a daily limit of three fish. Those changes would have represented a 35% harvest reduction that would lead to a recovery of redfish stocks in about 29 years.
However, scores of charter captains led by the ASGA drove from all corners of the state to attend the LDWF meeting and demand stricter limits leading to a quicker recovery. The meeting was the first time new redfish regulations in Louisiana have been considered since July of 1988, and sportfishing guides showed up in droves.
Based on the overwhelming input from those in attendance, the commission passed a motion to narrow the slot to 18 to 24 inches, with a three-fish limit, and no guide limit. Those new limits amount to a 55% reduction in harvest, putting redfish on a timeline to recover within 16 years.
Tony Friedrich, policy director of the ASGA called the proposal “a titanic victory that will provide a much brighter future for redfish” but cautioned, “we have a long way to go over the next few months to make this rule final.”
A public comment period ended on October 5.
“The national community of redfish anglers need to participate,” said Friedrich. “Whether you love redfish in your backyard, love fishing for them in Louisiana, or still hold these hallowed grounds high on your angling bucket list, we need your voice. We need to see these regulations across the finish line.”