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News: 2005

Portion of Louisiana Offshore Territorial Waters Closed to Shrimping
Posted: 1/5/05

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission announced a shrimping closure in a portion of Louisiana offshore territorial (outside) waters at its January 4, 2005, meeting. The action protects small white shrimp currently over-wintering in these areas, as well as additional over-wintering white shrimp expected to recruit to these waters.

The closure area includes that portion of state outside waters, south of the
Inside/Outside Shrimp Line as described in LA R.S. 56:495, from the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal at longitude 92 degrees, 18 minutes, 33 seconds W to the eastern shore of Belle Pass at latitude 29 degrees, 5 minutes, 07 seconds N and longitude 90 degrees, 13 minutes, 30 seconds W.

This closure will become effective at 6 a.m. January 10, 2005. All state outside waters east of longitude 90 degrees, 13 minutes, 30 seconds W, as well as state outside waters west of Freshwater Bayou Canal, will remain open to shrimping. The closure area described in this action is identical to the area description used in last year's closure order.

According to LA R.S. 56:498.B(1), the possession count on saltwater white shrimp shall average no more than 100 (whole shrimp) count per pound, except during the time period from Oct. 15 through the third Monday in December when there shall be no count. Current sampling conducted by Marine Fisheries Division biologists has indicated that white shrimp in this portion of Louisiana outside waters do not average 100 count per pound minimum legal size. This action protects small white shrimp and provides increased opportunity for growth to a larger more valuable size.

The Commission also authorized the LDWF secretary to close any part of remaining state outside waters if biological and technical data indicate the need to do so and to reopen any closed area when the closure is no longer necessary. The secretary is also authorized to open and close special shrimp seasons in portions of inside waters, where such a season would not detrimentally affect developing brown shrimp.

With the exception of Breton and Chandeleur sounds, all inside waters remain closed to shrimping. Those portions of Breton and Chandeleur sounds currently open to shrimping will close at 6 a.m. March 31, 2005.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), preliminary landings statistics indicate that Louisiana shrimp landings through November 2004 totaled approximately 77.85 million pounds (all species combined/heads-off weight) and comprised 56.5 percent of total Gulf of Mexico shrimp landings. Although dockside prices continue to be impacted by foreign shrimp imports, Louisiana shrimp landings for the year are on pace to become the third highest on record. Annual landings in 1986, 2000 and 2001 totaled 93.7, 92.2 and 79.1 million pounds, respectively.

The opening dates for the 2005 spring shrimp season in inside waters will be considered at the May commission meeting to be held at LDWF headquarters.

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