Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon resigns

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WASHINGTON - JUNE 15: U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) (4th L) takes the podium as (L-R) Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Rep. John Carter (R-TX), and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) look on during a news conference June 15, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Members of the Gulf Coast Congressional delegation called on the Obama Administration for an end to the moratorium on new deepwater drilling. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE (WGNO) – Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary and former U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon has resigned as the head of the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department.

The governor’s office has not confirmed Melancon’s departure, but U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, released a statement about Melancon’s resignation.

“We appreciate Charlie’s years of public service and wish him well in future endeavors,” Graves said. “We also look forward to working with the new secretary to ensure Louisiana remains the Sportsman’s Paradise.   The State of Louisiana has a remarkable record of sustainable wildlife and fisheries leadership.  We can build upon these successes by delegating management authority over larger areas of Gulf of Mexico fisheries.”

Nola.com reports that Melancon, a Napoleonville Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Senate against U.S. Sen. David Vitter in 2010, has been at the center of controversy as the head of wildlife and fisheries since June:

Melancon has been a contentious figure at the state agency since mid-June, when he announced his opposition to a bill supported by Louisiana’s congressional delegation that would transfer management authority of red snapper to the five Gulf states. The position stunned the state’s recreational anglers, who had been fighting to wrest control of the fish from the federal government.

Melancon further angered anglers by praising the efforts of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the federal board that had reduced recreational fishing seasons for snapper down to nine days annually. The secretary announced his intentions to work through the Gulf Council, which was a nonstarter for the recreational industry.