Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Buras charter guide for alleged violations pertaining to highly migratory species on May 26 in Plaquemines Parish.
Agents cited Blake Rigby, 28, of Tripletail Charters, for failing to obtain a highly migratory species (HMS) permit, three offenses of taking undersized swordfish and a second offense of failing to report swordfish landings.
LDWF agents stopped Rigby for a boating safety and creel check on the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area near Venice in South Pass. Agents found Rigby in possession of three swordfish one of which was under the minimum size of 29 inches.
Agents learned that Rigby’s HMS permit expired in December of 2021. Agents also found through NOAA’s HMS Division that Rigby failed to report any swordfish landings for 2022.
LDWF in conjunction with NOAA Fisheries requires fishermen to obtain federal permits if they fish for HMS, which include tunas, billfish, swordfish or sharks. Recreational fishermen with an HMS Charter boat or HMS Angling permits must report swordfish and billfish landings, as well as blue fin tuna landings and dead discards, within 24 hours of returning from a trip.
Failing to possess an HMS permit and possessing undersized swordfish carries up to a $500 fine for each offense. Second offense of failing to report swordfish landings carries up to an $800 fine and forfeiture to the commission of anything seized in connection with the violation. In addition to any other penalty, for a second or subsequent violation of the same provision of law, the penalty imposed may include revocation of the permit or license under which the violation occurred for the period for which it was issued and barring of the issuance of another permit or license for that same period.
Rigby also faces civil restitution for the illegally landed HMS species since January 2022.
Agents participating in the case are Corporal Tom Forehand, Senior Agent Austin Landry and Lt. Adam Young.