Current data may signal future changes in creel and size limits for fishermen in the Sportsman’s Paradise

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]n inadvertent leak by a member of Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has made public data that showed serious problems with statewide estimates of spawning stock biomass, spawning potential ratio and fishing mortality of Louisiana’s official state saltwater fish: the speckled trout.

Image created by artist Thom Glace.

“We sent these out to the Commission members as a tentative agenda item before the March meeting,” said Patrick Banks, assistant secretary of fisheries with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “We knew the stock assessment showed overharvest, and we were trying to make sure we informed them as early as we could.”

According to Banks, the agency yanked the planned presentation of these figures to the Commission before its March 7 meeting due to errors found in the data.
“As we were checking numbers, we found mistakes in our preliminary analysis,” he said. “We had to rerun the model without the errors. The numbers changed in stock assessment, but they continue to demonstrate we have exceeded our thresholds.

“We are just not seeing biomass increase, and fishing mortality continues to be above limits of concern,” Banks said. “Our bottom line did not change.”

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