BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - It looks as if Louisiana's recreational red snapper season will continue through 11:59 p.m. New Year's Eve.
Surveys indicate that 98% of the state's quota had been caught as of Dec. 8, with about 16,100 pounds (7,300 kilograms) remaining, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
If that's all caught before Dec. 31, the season will end earlier.
Louisiana's recreational season opened May 24 and was weekends only for most of the year. But in early November, Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet expanded it to all-week, starting on Thanksgiving. At the time, 27,582 pounds (12,511 kilograms) was left in the quota.
The popular sport and table fish is still recovering from nearly disastrous overfishing.
Red snapper has been a hot issue in the Gulf, with seasons getting shorter and shorter as fish got bigger and more numerous. In 2017, the Trump administration extended a three-day season to 42 days, even though regulators said the extension could add up to six years to the time required for red snapper stocks to recover.
Regulators agreed in 2018 on a two-year pilot program under which each state sets dates for and keeps tabs on the recreational red snapper catch in federal waters off its coast. If approved by the U.S. commerce secretary, this would become official policy.
In April, the group that manages Gulf of Mexico fishing in federal waters said states can continue managing anglers' catch of red snapper after this year.