RS 56:325.6     

§325.6. Bait gulf menhaden; annual quota after regular closed season

           A. The Louisiana Legislature finds and declares there is great financial hardship imposed upon Louisiana crawfish, blue crab, and catfish fishermen because of insufficient supplies of bait during the winter season. This insufficiency compels Louisiana fishermen to purchase bait menhaden and other less effective baits at greatly increased costs from other sources outside the state. In order to assist these fishermen, the legislature hereby extends the regular bait gulf menhaden season by adding a quota of bait gulf menhaden to be taken during the closed season.

           B. The maximum quota for the commercial harvest of bait gulf menhaden, to be used for bait only, taken within Louisiana waters or landed in Louisiana is established at three thousand metric tons, regardless of the harvesting method used, after the close of the regular menhaden season until December first. If the quota has not been reached by December first, then, beginning on April first of the following year, bait gulf menhaden may be taken until the department determines that the quota has been met. Any menhaden taken pursuant to this Section shall be sold only for use as bait.

           C. The department shall monitor catch statistics for bait gulf menhaden and shall notify the commission when it is determined that the quota has been reached or is projected to be reached. When the quota has been reached or is projected to be reached, the commission shall by public notice close the bait menhaden season and fisheries to all commercial fishing in Louisiana waters. The closure shall not take effect until at least seventy-two hours after notice to the public. The closure and notice of closure shall provide that the commercial taking or landing of bait gulf menhaden in Louisiana, whether caught within or without the territorial waters of Louisiana, after the closure, is prohibited. The closure and notice of closure shall, in addition, provide that no vessel possessing or fishing with any seine, gill net, trammel net, or hoop net shall have bait gulf menhaden aboard the vessel, whether caught within or without the waters of the state. Nothing in this Section shall be deemed to prohibit the possession of fish legally taken prior to the closure order.

           D. The provisions of this Section shall apply to outside waters only.

           E. Violation of the provisions of this Section constitutes a class 5(B) violation.

           F. The secretary shall grant special permits for the taking of menhaden during the special bait season. Each individual or company receiving such a permit shall reimburse the department for all expenses incurred in the placement of an observer on each boat participating in the special bait season. All menhaden caught during this season will be sold for bait.

           Acts 1989, No. 414, §1.