LDWF To Implement New Flounder ‘Season’
As they say: there is a time and a place for everything.
"To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven" - The Byrds, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" via SongFacts
Well, maybe not everything, but for most things; fish included.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has issued a "Notice of Intent", announcing its intention to further regulate the taking of Southern Flounder from Louisiana waters.
Now, while that statement sounds negative at the surface level (for those who oppose more government regulation, I would assume), it makes lots of sense if you think about it.
This closed season is necessary to attempt to recover the stock of Southern Flounder, which is overfished based on results from the most recent flounder stock assessment. - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
As it stands, recreational fisherpeople are allowed to take 10 Southern Flounder from Louisiana waters per day.
Commercial fisherpeople are allowed the same daily limit: 10.
The newly-proposed change to the regulations on harvesting Southern Flounder would prohibit any harvesting of the species in Louisiana waters between the dates of October 15 and November 30 of each year.
It's during this time that Southern Flounder move out of inland waters, toward deeper water, lower the shades, throw on some Barry White, and, shall we say, find a suitor.
The LWFC chose to move forward with an annual closed season in the fall to allow mature female flounder to escape inshore waters and move offshore to spawn. The closed season is projected to help the stock recover to a healthy biomass target by 2028. - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
A few months ago, I had a conversation with an agent from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries while I was fishing at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. During that conversation, the topic of the Southern Flounder came up.
Of course, neither of us used the "official" name of the fish, we both (as most people do) called them, simply, "flounder".
He told me that there was a biologist who had been working in the area to specifically study the flounder. She would fish in different areas of the refuge to try to catch flounders. If she caught any, she would take note of the specifics of each fish caught, and then she would carefully release the fish back into the water.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) adopted a Notice of Intent (NOI) to set an annual closed season for the recreational and commercial harvest of Southern Flounder from October 15 through November 30 of each year. Modifications in this rule create one statewide closed season for Southern Flounder for both the recreational and commercial sectors. - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
What was noticed about her studies is that she didn't catch many flounders. Like, not many at all. I don't recall the exact numbers, but it was WAY lower than the studies from years past.
And I understand that studies like hers were taking place in different places across the coastal area of Louisiana and, obviously, the numbers were low enough to prompt the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to implement a "season" for the Southern Flounder.
What does all of this mean for the average fisherperson? It means that if you catch a flounder in Louisiana waters during the proposed time period in which the harvesting of the fish is prohibited, you must release that fish back into the water from where it was caught.
Do you have an opinion about the proposed Flounder Season? If you'd like to express that opinion, the LDWF has set up an avenue for you to submit your comments:
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@example.com prior to noon on Thursday, May 2, 2022.
As for me, I am very interested in the preservation of our natural resources, and I understand the devastation over-fishing can have on a species. And, when I back away and look at the big picture, I also understand the devastation the loss of a species can have on an ecosystem.
I am willing to go for a few weeks of catch and release to help preserve the species so they can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.
The proposed change in the season by the LDWF was posted, online, in its "Notice of Intent".
NOTICE OF INTENT
The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission does hereby give notice of intent to amend a Rule (LAC 76:VII.351) by modifying existing Southern Flounder harvest regulations. Proposed changes establish a closed season for the commercial and recreational harvest of Southern
Flounder from October 15th through November 30th of each year.
You can access the complete "Notice of Intent" from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries here.
Remember: A bad day of fishing beats a good day at work, any day.