10,000 red drum to be stocked in Calcasieu Lake estuary as part of pilot program

10,000 red drum to be stocked in Calcasieu Lake estuary as part of pilot program
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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — About 10,000 red drum fingerlings will be stocked in the Calcasieu Lake estuary as part of a pilot project to investigate the biological and ecological efficacy of stocking waterways with hatchery-raised fish, state wildlife officials said Tuesday.

The fish are expected to be stocked later this year or in 2024. The Recreational Fisheries Research Institute will cover the costs of stocking and genetic analysis under the permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, officials said in a news release.

Although red drum have been stocked in other states, the department said it wants to caution against expecting too much from the effort in Louisiana.

“With the recent stock assessment showing that our red drum population has an over 1.5 million fish deficit compared to the long term recruitment average, stocking efforts will not solve the issues facing red drum in Louisiana,” LDWF Assistant Secretary for Fisheries Patrick Banks said. “Stocking of hatchery-reared fish is rarely the solution to a fish population problem in nature, but it could serve a useful purpose in the future. We hope to determine if stocked fish are able to survive in the Calcasieu Estuary and at levels that can be tracked via genetic testing.”

If the pilot study shows positive results that might be useful for fisheries management, it will be up to the department’s secretary to determine if other stocking programs could participate or if an increase in the stocking effort would be appropriate.

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