Commercial Crabbing

Commercial fishermen shall tag, mark or otherwise identify any crabs that are sold, in a manner which will ensure that such commercial fisherman can be identified as the person who harvested the crabs. The identification required herein shall include the commercial name, license number and date on which the crabs were harvested.

Any commercial fisherman identified as having sold undersized crabs to a wholesale/retail dealer shall be subject to penalties for the taking and possession of undersized crabs.

SEASONS

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has authority to prohibit the use of crab traps in state waters for a maximum 16 consecutive-day period between Feb. 1 - March 31 of each year and during a maximum 14 consecutive-day period which includes the opening day of the spring inshore shrimp season for the purposes of removing derelict or abandoned crab traps.

SIZE/POSSESSION LIMITS

Hard shell crabs: Five inches in width as measured from point to point of the upper shell, EXCEPT when held for processing as soft crabs or sold to a processor for the making of soft shell crabs. Crabs under the size limit shall be returned immediately to the waters from which taken without avoidable injury. Maximum possession of whole stone crab is one stone crab per each crate of blue crabs or group of blue crabs equivalent to one crate.

Premolt crabs: Premolt crabs less than five inches in width held by a fisherman for processing as softshell crabs or sold by him to a processor for the making of softshell crabs must be identifiable as premolt crabs and must be held in a separate container marked “peelers” or “busters” while in the possession of the fisherman. Crabs in the premolt stage are no further from molting than having a white line on the back paddle fin. Minimum commercial size limits do not apply to crabs held in a work box. Each fisherman may have one work box if not using a grader, or two work boxes if using a grader.

Stone crabs: Stone crabs (Menippe adina) may be taken by the same method as blue crabs, however only the claws may be landed. Minimum claw length is 2 3/4 inches forearm (propodus) measured from the anterior-most tip of the claw to the base of the joint. Whole stone crabs may be possessed on the vessel until the claws are removed after which time the crab shall be returned to the waters from which taken.

By-catch: A licensed commercial fisherman may retain for personal consumption finfish caught as by-catch in crab traps up to an aggregate of 25 finfish per vessel per day. No freshwater game fish, no red drum and no seatrout may be kept as a part of this aggregate. Any fish retained are subject to recreational size and limits.

METHODS OF TAKING

Crabs may be taken with any legal crab trap, crab dropnet, trawl, skimmer net, butterfly net, trotline, bushline, dip net or cast net. Dredges shall not be used for the intentional taking of crabs.

The taking of crabs by means of trawls in inside waters is permitted only during the open season for shrimp and with a legal mesh size.

No person shall possess or sell adult female crabs in the berry stage (i.e., carrying the eggs or young attached to the abdomen). All crabs in the berry stage taken by any means shall be returned immediately to the waters. However, a legally licensed commercial crab fisherman may have in his work box an incidental take of crabs in the berry stage equal to not more than 2 percent of the total number of crabs in his possession.

Crab Traps: The baiting, tending, checking or of crab traps, the contents of crab traps or their lines, buoys or markers is prohibited in public waters from one half hour after legal sunset until one half hour before legal sunrise.

It is the responsibility of the crabber to place traps so vessels can safely navigate and to properly dispose of his unserviceable traps on shore. No crab traps shall be set in navigable channels or entrances to streams. A crabber who retrieves his trap with a commission approved common float shall return the common float to any shrimper for reuse. No person other than the licensee or his agent shall intentionally damage or destroy crab traps or the floats or lines attached thereto, or remove the contents thereof.

Crab fishers may utilize a plastic bait box cover to mark trap ownership or a two inch stainless steel, self-locking tag attached to the center of the trap ceiling. Either must be legibly engraved or embossed with the commercial fisherman’s license number. Crab traps may be attached to a trotline to which at least one end is attached to a non floating line and a visible float of at least six inches in diameter or half gallon volume size. Crab traps located in areas designated as freshwater north of the northern bank of the Intracoastal/Waterway and west of LA Highway 70 are not required to be marked with a float and float line. Each crab trap on a postrotline shall be registered with the department and shall have attached thereto a tag bearing the crab fisherman’s license number.

All crab traps must be marked with a solid float, six inches in diameter or greater, attached with a non-floating line 1/4 inch minimum diameter or better. Each crab trap must have a minimum of two escape rings 2 5/16 inches in inside diameter, excluding the ring material. Rings must be placed on the vertical outside walls flush with the trap floor or baffle with at least one ring located in each chamber of the trap. Except from April 1 - June 30 and from Sept. 1-Oct. 31, escape rings shall not be obstructed with any material that hampers or prevents exit of crabs. Escape ring mandates shall not apply to crab traps placed in Lake Pontchartrain.

Metal tackle or metal crab traps shall not be used in any of the public waters north of the Intracoastal Waterway in the Calcasieu River or in any body of water comprising the Calcasieu River System north of the Intracoastal Canal or in the waters of Vermilion Bay from Cypremort Point one mile offshore to Blue Point. Crab traps are prohibited in the Tchefuncte River.

SOFT SHELL CRAB SHEDDERS LICENSE
The owner or operator of any soft shell crab shedding facility must purchase a wholesale/retail seafood dealer license. Wholesale/retail seafood dealers who shed soft shell crabs or operate soft shell crab shedding facilities shall on or before the tenth of each month submit to LDWF on forms specified by the department, information relative to the amount of soft shell crabs produced.