FREE LOUISIANA TUNA PERMITS

gulf fishingThe Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved a notice of intent to establish a free permit for recreational anglers who fish for yellowfin tuna. The information gathered from this permit will provide essential data about the people who fish off of Louisiana's coast for yellowfin, and how much tuna is harvested each year.

"The current system is based upon data that is often old by the time it is in use," said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries assistant secretary Randy Pausina. "To better understand our fisheries resources so that we may better enjoy them, we need to collect information about how and what our anglers are fishing for in waters off Louisiana's coast."

The free permit, according to LDWF officials, will be designed with user input to make it as easy as possible for both recreational anglers and charter fishing boats to report their trips and their catch.

"We are designing this permit to be flexible, so that anglers aren't frustrated by the process," Pausina said. "Ultimately, the information gathered could mean anglers would have more opportunities to fish for highly migratory species like yellowfin tuna."

The current management of yellowfin tuna involves not only the LDWF, but also the federal government and international treaty agreements. Still, those management decisions are based upon limited data. Only anglers who fish for bluefin tuna are required to report what they catch (the limit is currently set at one fish per vessel per year).

Current management is also set for the entire southeastern Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, rather than specific seasons and limits for each fishery.

"The Gulf of Mexico is an absolutely incredible place to go fishing," Pausina added. "We want to keep it that way by moving from a one-size-fits-all management style to one that allows us real-time data on these fish and on the efforts by recreational anglers."

Public comments on the Notice of Intent will be accepted until Thursday, February 2, 2012. Comments may be submitted to Joey Shepard, Office of Fisheries, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000, or via e-mail at jshepard@wlf.la.gov.

For more information, visit www.wlf.la.gov.