Shrimping areas in Louisiana are divided into inside waters, the outside territorial sea and the federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The line (shrimp line) as described in LA R.S. 56:495(A) that separates inside waters from outside territorial waters generally follows the coastline, although there are some exceptions. For specific boundary locations check with your local LDWF enforcement agent. Maps of the shrimp line are available at a charge of $10 per map by writing the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Oyster Lease Survey Section, Post Office Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000. Please specify which area of the coast you are interested in. The line that separates state territorial waters from the EEZ generally runs along the Louisiana coast three miles from shore. For specific boundary locations, particularly in the Grand Isle and Marsh Island area, you should contact your local LDWF Enforcement Agent.
For management purposes, both state inside and state outside territorial waters are divided into three shrimp management zones:
a. Zone 1 extends from the Louisiana/Mississippi state line to the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River.
b. Zone 2 extends from the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River to the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island.
c. Zone 3 extends from the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island to the Louisiana/Texas state line.
NOTE: Restricted areas exist within certain WMA, state and federal refuges and other areas. These areas may be closed to certain gear types or methods of fishing and different possession limits may apply. Consult your local Wildlife and Fisheries Office or enforcement agent or the WMA section of this pamphlet.
Shrimp seasons are flexible and are fixed by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission based upon biological and technical data relative to shrimp populations in Louisiana waters. Generally, the spring inshore season will begin in early to mid May and may extend into July. The fall inshore season usually begins in early to mid August and extends into December. The shrimp season in Louisiana’s territorial waters is generally open year-round EXCEPT for a closed season in portions of state outside waters which may be set during late fall to early winter, usually beginning in mid to late December and extending into March or April. The shrimp season in the federal waters of the Gulf outside (south) of Louisiana’s territorial waters is usually open all year; these waters are controlled by the federal government. A federal shrimp vessel moratorium permit is required for all vessels fishing for shrimp in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Information concerning federal shrimp vessel moratorium permits, Turtle Excluder Device (TED) and Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD) requirements and exemptions can be obtained by contacting the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, Petersburg, FL 33701 at (727) 824-5312 or website at www.nmfs.noaa.gov.
There is no size limit on any saltwater shrimp taken during the spring open season nor is there any size limit on brown shrimp or seabobs taken during any open season in Louisiana. There is, however, a possession count on saltwater white shrimp taken in either inside or outside (offshore) waters of Louisiana of 100 count (whole shrimp per pound). This size restriction applies to the taking or possession of such shrimp aboard a vessel, EXCEPT during the period from Oct. 15 through the third Monday in December when there shall be no possession count on saltwater white shrimp taken or possessed. When more than 50 percent by weight of the saltwater shrimp taken or possessed is seabobs or brown shrimp, then the maximum allowable amount of undersized white shrimp taken or possessed shall not exceed 10 percent by weight of the total saltwater shrimp taken or possessed.
METHODS OF TAKING
During open seasons, saltwater shrimp may be taken with trawls, butterfly nets, skimmer nets or cast nets and by no other means. Bait shrimp may be taken at any time, even during the closed season, with cast nets less than eight and one-half feet in radius, hand operated dip nets with a diameter not to exceed three feet, bait traps, and bait seines less than 30 feet with a maximum mesh size of 1/4 inch bar mesh which are manually operated on foot only. Trawls, butterfly nets or skimmer nets cannot be used for any purpose in state waters during closed season.
NOTE: Federal law requires that all shrimp trawlers with a power retrieval system must have approved Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) installed in each trawl except test nets with headrope lengths of 12 feet or less. Test nets with headrope lengths of 12 feet or less are limited by tow-time restrictions. Also, in federal waters, federal law requires shrimp trawlers to install approved Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) in each trawl.
1. Trawls cannot have a mesh size less than 5/8 inch bar or one and one-fourth inches stretched. Trawls cannot have a mesh size less then 3/4 inch bar or one and one-half inches stretched during the fall inshore shrimp season for the area of Zone 2 from the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island to the Atchafalaya River.
2. In inshore waters vessels may use one trawl measuring 50 feet or less in length along the corkline and 66 feet or less along the lead line; or two trawls which shall not exceed 25 feet each along the corkline, 33 feet or less along the lead line and have trawl doors no larger than 8 feet in length and 43 inches in height; or two trawls which shall not exceed 25 feet each along the corkline, 33 feet along the lead line and have no more than two outer trawl doors no larger than eight feet in length and 43 inches in height and no more than two inner sled doors, EXCEPT that each vessel may, in addition, pull a test trawl. In state outside territorial waters (from the beach to three miles offshore in most areas), each shrimping vessel may only use nets that do not exceed a total maximum per vessel of 130 feet of cork line and 165 feet of lead line, in addition to one test trawl.
3. In Breton and Chandeleur Sounds as described by the “double rig” line in LA R.S. 56:495.1(A)(2), two trawls may be used, each measuring 65 feet or less in length along the corkline and 82 feet or less in length along the lead line, plus one test trawl.
4. “Test trawl,” as used in this section, means a trawl which is not more than 16 feet along the corkline or 20 feet along the lead line or head rope.
5. In federal offshore waters (EEZ), up to four trawls may be used of any size, plus one test trawl.
6. Trawling, skimming and butterflying is prohibited in Lake Maurepas and that portion of Lake Pontchartrain from the shoreline to 1 1/4 miles out from the Jefferson/Orleans Parish line east to South Point, from South Point to North Shore along the railroad bridge west from North Shore to Goose Point.
7. Trawling, skimming and butterflying is prohibited between the railroad bridge and Interstate 10 in Lake Pontchartrain.
8. No person shall trawl, seine or use a skimmer net over any privately leased bedding grounds or oyster propagating place which is staked off, marked or posted as required by law or regulation.
9. Trawling at night is prohibited in the Cameron Parish sections of Calcasieu Lake, the Black Bayou system, Grand Bayou and Little Burtons Ditch (all in the Calcasieu Lake area) and in Grand Lake and White Lake.
10. Use of skimmer nets is prohibited at night in Calcasieu Lake; however, skimmer nets may be used during day and night in all areas of Cameron Parish west of the western shore of Calcasieu Lake.
11. Trawling, skimming and butterflying at night is prohibited in Grand Lake and White Lake.
12. All commercial fishing with butterfly nets and trawls longer than 16 feet is prohibited in Lake Charles, Moss Lake and Prien Lake.
13. Night shrimping, between the hours of one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, is prohibited in Vermilion Bay, East and West Cote Blanche Bays and Atchafalaya Bay to the western shore of the Atchafalaya River and the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel out to Eugene Island as described by the inside-outside line in R.S. 56:495.
14. Trawls and butterfly nets are prohibited in the waters of Bayou Judge Perez (Bayou Hermitage) from its entrance into Lake Judge Perez (Lake Hermitage) to Devils Bayou, a distance of approximately one mile, located in Plaquemines Parish.
15. Trawling, skimming or butterflying north of the LA Highway 631 bridge at Des Allemands and in Lake Des Allemands, its streams and tributaries, is prohibited.
16. Taking shrimp with saltwater trawls from May 1-Sept. 15 each year is prohibited in state waters on the south side of Grand Isle from Caminada Pass to Barataria Pass in Jefferson Parish, from the southeast side of the Caminada bridge to the northwest side of Barataria Pass at Fort Livingston, extending from the beach side of Grand Isle to a distance of 500 feet beyond the shoreline into the Gulf of Mexico.
17. Trawling is prohibited in the cove immediately adjacent to Cypremont Point State Park landward of a line from Blue Point to Cypremort Point to the shoreline.
Butterfly and Skimmer Nets:
1. Butterfly and skimmer nets with a mesh size less than 5/8 inch bar or 1 1/4 inches stretched are prohibited. Butterfly and skimmer nets cannot have a mess size less than 3/4 inch bar or one and one-half inches stretched during the fall inshore shrimp season for the area of Zone 2 from the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island to the Atchafalaya River.
2. A single stationary butterfly net measuring more than 22 feet vertically or horizontally, or double butterfly nets having individual nets measuring more than 12 feet vertically or horizontally are prohibited, unless double butterfly nets are used on a vessel, in which case each individual net can measure no more than 12 feet vertically by 16 feet horizontally. No person on a vessel shall use a double skimmer net having an individual net frame more than 16 feet measured horizontally or 12 feet measured vertically, or 20 feet measured diagonally, or with a lead line measuring more than 28 feet for each net. Reinforcement framing attached to the net frame shall not be considered in determining the dimensions of a double skimmer. A skimmer or butterfly net may be mounted no more then 24 inches from the side of the vessel. Individual nets cannot be tied together. Operation of butterfly and skimmer nets shall in no way impede normal navigation.
3. No person shall use sweeper devices, leads, extensions, wings or other attachments in conjunction with or attached to butterfly nets or skimmer nets.
4. No net or beam trawl used for taking fish or shrimp from the saltwater areas of the state shall be left unattended as defined in R.S. 56:8(102) except such legal nets or trawls which are attached to a wharf at a camp and which are tagged with an LDWF tag issued in conjunction with the gear being used.
5. Fishing with a butterfly net shall be prohibited in inside waters during the closed season.
6. No butterfly net or bottom net may be suspended from a piling, float, barge, raft, bridge or shore installation in the Rigolets or Chef Menteur Pass or in those portions of Lake Pontchartrain or Lake Borgne which are within two miles of the Rigolets or the Chef Menteur Pass. However, in the Chef Menteur Pass a properly licensed single butterfly net measuring not more than 22 feet by 22 feet may be suspended from a wharf which has been approved by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and which is attached to privately owned or leased immovable property, or to a structure that is not attached to privately owned or leased property if the owner has possessed a permit for such structure from the U.S. Corps of Engineers prior to 1988, provided that the owner or leaseholder is present on the immovable property or permitted structure at all times that the net is in the water.
7. Butterfly nets may be used for the taking of shrimp in Calcasieu Lake, Calcasieu River, Grand Bayou and Calcasieu Ship Channel, all within Cameron Parish only, in the daytime and in the nighttime, during open season.
8. All butterfly nets located in East and West Passes of the Calcasieu River, in Grand Bayou and in Oyster Bayou, all within Cameron Parish only, shall be tagged with a tag listing the fisherman’s name, address and butterfly net license number. This tag shall be attached to the net, frame or any other structure or part directly attached to the net or frame in such a manner that it is above the water at all times. This tag shall be of readable size, easily visible and with letters at least three inches high and of appropriate width.
9. No person may operate a stationary shrimp net within 1,000 feet upstream from another stationary shrimp net that is attached to or moored to a wharf or platform permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, if two permitted wharves or platforms are located within 1,000 feet of each other, the owner of the upstream wharf or platform may attach a stationary shrimp net if any one of the following applies:
a. This permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was issued prior to Aug. 15, 2004.
b. His permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was issued prior to the permit for the downstream wharf or platform.
c. The owner of the downstream wharf or platform does not operate a stationary shrimp net.
10. A stationary shrimp net is any net for taking shrimp including butterfly or skimmer net that is attached to the water bottom, bank, or fixed structure.
11. When a butterfly net located in West or East Pass of the Calcasieu River, in Oyster Bayou or in Grand Bayou, all within Cameron Parish, is not being fished, all of the following shall apply:
a. Any object to which the net is attached or mounted solely for purposes of fishing, including but not limited to any unmanned boat or vessel, floating platform, pontoon or barge, shall be moved from the waterway and relocated adjacent to the shoreline in a manner which shall not present an obstruction or hazard to navigation.
b. Any anchor or weight used to secure in the waterway the net or any object to which it is attached or mounted solely for purposes of fishing, including but not limited to any unmanned boat or vessel, floating platform, pontoon or barge, shall be removed from the waterbottom.
c. Any rope, line, chain or other device used to connect to the shoreline the net and any object to which it is attached or mounted solely for purposes of fishing, including but not limited to any unmanned boat or vessel, floating platform, pontoon or barge, shall be prohibited. However, the prohibition expressed herein shall not apply when such rope, line, chain or other device is being used to secure, when not in use, such net and any object to which it is attached or mounted adjacent to the shoreline in a manner which shall not present an obstruction or hazard to navigation.
d. Any butterfly net, whether or not it is being fished, that is not marked for identification so that the person owning or responsible for such net can be identified shall be considered contraband. Any agent finding the contraband butterfly net shall immediately seize and take it into custody and may obtain from a judge of any court in the parish where the butterfly net was found an ex parte order forfeiting the contraband and ordering its destruction. An agent of the department or an authorized employee who seizes items as provided in this paragraph is immune from liability and from suit for seizure and destruction of a butterfly net.
Shrimper/Crab Trap Interaction: A shrimper who catches an unserviceable crab trap shall keep it on the vessel and properly dispose of it on shore. A shrimper that catches an otherwise serviceable trap without a float shall return it to the water with a common float. A common float is defined as an all-white plastic, one-gallon or larger bleach bottle.
Qualified permit holders in possession of a “special bait dealers permit” may take live bait shrimp during the closed season beginning May 1 of each year and between the spring and fall inshore shrimp seasons. The fee for this permit is $110 and the permit may be purchased any time between Jan. 1 - April 30 of each year. For more information concerning this permit, contact the Marine Fisheries Division.