Commercial Crab Regulations

Legal Gear

You may only use the following types of gear to harvest blue crabs in Louisiana’s waters:

*Use of trawls, skimmer nets and butterfly nets prohibited during closed shrimp seasons. Trawls, skimmer nets and butterfly nets must be of legal mesh size (see commercial shrimping regulations).

Crab Trap


Crab drop net




Skimmer net*

Dip net

Butterfly net*

Cast net

Size Limits

Hard shell crabs:

You may only harvest crabs 5 inches carapace width or wider (measured from point to point along the upper shell) except when held for processing as soft shell crabs or sold to a processor for the making of soft shell crabs. Since at least half of the crab population has sexually matured at this size, this minimum size limit helps ensure crabs have an opportunity to reproduce and replace those that are harvested. You must immediately return crabs smaller than 5 inches wide back to the water without injury.

Pre-molt crabs:

Pre-molt crabs are crabs showing signs of molting, the first sign is a whit elinek on the back paddle fin.  You may harvest pre-molt crabs smaller than 5 inches carapace width under the following conditions:

  • You’re holding them for processing as softshell crabs, OR
  • You’re selling them to a processor for making softshell crabs and have properly identified them as pre-molt crabs and are holding them in a separate container marked “peelers” or “busters” 

Stone crabs

You may only harvest the claws of stone crabs. The claws must measure at least 2-3/4 inches, measured from the tip of the claw to the base of the joint. You may only transfer legal size stone crab claws from a vessel to the shore. You may keep whole stone crabs on a vessel until you have removed their claws; then you must immediately return the crabs to the waters where you harvested them. 
Stone crabs have the ability to regenerate their claws and returning them to the waters in which they were harvested provides them with a better chance of survival. Although current regulations allows removal of both the pincer and crusher claws, the proper removal of only one claw greatly improves the crabs chances of survival.

Possession Limits

Egg-bearing crabs

You may not harvest females of any size if they’re bearing eggs on their abdomen. You must immediately return egg-bearing crabs to the water without injury to protect this next generation of crabs. No more than 2% of the total number of crabs in your possession may be incidentally harvested, egg-bearing crabs. 
Whole stone crabs: You may only harvest stone crab claws; you may possess one incidentally harvested whole stone crab per crate of blue crabs (or group of blue crabs equivalent to one crate).

Bycatch Limits

You may retain for personal consumption up to 25 finfish caught as bycatch in crab traps, per vessel per day. However, you may not keep any freshwater game fish, red drum, or spotted seatrout. Any fish you keep are still subject to recreational size and possession limits.

If you have a gear license which allows you to take finfish for commercial purposes, you may keep any legal finfish you catch under this license, up to the commercial possession limit for that finfish. You do not have to separate this catch from the bycatch described above. The limit on southern flounder is 10 fish per day per licensed fisherman for each consecutive day on the water.

Tagging Requirements 

You must tag, mark, or otherwise identify any crabs you sell, documenting your name and license number and the date when you harvested the crabs so the fisherman who harvested the crabs can be identified.

Soft Shell Crab Shedders 

If you own or operate a soft shell crab shedding facility, you must purchase a Wholesale/Retail Seafood Dealer License from LDWF ($250 resident, $1,105 nonresident). On the tenth of every month, you must report to LDWF the amount of soft shell crabs you produce. 

Crab Trap Requirements