Commercial Regulations

Commercial fishermen must be properly licensed to commercially harvest and sell fish. Specific state and federal permits are required for certain fisheries.

Commercial gear must be properly licensed when used in state waters. Use or possession of certain commercial gear requires qualification. See Commercial Gear License section of this pamphlet for more information.

Commercial vessels must be properly licensed whenever taking or possessing fish for sale in Louisiana saltwater areas.

Any commercial species for which there is no specified size or take limit may be taken in any size or quantity.

Commercial fishermen must return all undersized fish to waters without injury.

Five percent of each species of commercial fish by number may be smaller than the legal limit, EXCEPT channel catfish, of which 10 percent by number may be smaller than the legal limit.

Commercial fishermen, wholesale/retail seafood dealers, retail seafood dealers, restaurants or retail grocers shall not sell, purchase, barter, trade or exchange or attempt to sell, purchase, barter, trade or exchange any undersized fish.

Possession of red drum or spotted seatrout on board any vessel on which there is a gill net, strike net, hoop net, trammel net or seine is prohibited.

All finfish in or from saltwater areas, except tuna, garfish, swordfish and sharks, possessed by a commercial fisherman shall have the head and caudal fin intact until set or put on shore or when sold. Shark fins shall not be possessed aboard a fishing vessel unless naturally attached to the original shark carcass by at least some portion of uncut skin. All garfish possessed by a commercial fisherman shall retain a strip of skin sufficient to clearly identify the fish until set or put on shore or when sold. All finfish shall be measured in accordance with applicable law.

For the purpose of consumption at sea onboard the harvesting vessel, a person shall have no more than two pounds of finfish parts per person on board the vessel, provided that the vessel is equipped to cook such finfish.

When on a commercial finfish fishing trip all finfish in possession are deemed to be used for commercial purposes. This means finfish possessed must comply with commercial sizes, limits, seasons and other commercial requirements.

It shall be unlawful for any person to use or employ any aircraft including fixed wing aircraft, dirigibles, balloons, helicopters or any other form of aerial surveillance in the airspace of this state to assist in the taking of finfish EXCEPT in fishing for menhaden and herring like fish.

NOTE: Sanctuaries exist within WMAs, refuges and other areas which may be closed to certain gear types or methods of fishing. Consult your local LDWF Office or Enforcement Agent or the WMA section of this pamphlet.


Some commercial gears are restricted to specific fisheries, and are described under each of those fisheries. Saltwater Gill Nets, Seines, Trammel Nets: use or possession is prohibited in the designated saltwater areas of the state. The use of bandit and longline gears are prohibited in state waters.

Gears Limited to Federal Waters:

Bandit gear: vertical hook-and-line gear with rods attached to a vessel and with line retrieved by manual, electric or hydraulic reels (cannot be used in state waters).

Longline gear: a line which is over 440 yards long to which gangions and hooks are attached that is deployed horizontally and which may be retrieved by an electric or hydraulic hauler. Longline gear shall not mean a trotline as defined in R.S. 56:8(101) (cannot be used in state waters).

Saltwater Gill Net for EEZ: A traversing permit is required from LDWF for transport of gill nets, trammel nets, seines and strike nets across state waters for use in federal waters. Permittees must notify LDWF four hours before leaving port to traverse or fish under the conditions of the Traversing Permit and immediately upon returning from the permitted trip. LDWF shall be notified by calling 1-800-442-2511 or 225-765-2441 (24 hours).

Legal Gears in State Waters:

Cast Net: any cast net used for commercial purposes or cast nets exceeding eight and one-half feet in radius.

Commercial rod and reel: any rod and reel used for commercial purposes.
Qualifying criteria for Rod and Reel gear licenses are:

  1. applicant must provide positive proof that they held a valid commercial gear license for saltwater gill nets during any two years of the years 1993, 1994, and 1995.
  2. applicant must provide positive proof, in the form of state and federal income tax returns, including Schedule C of the federal 1040 form, submitted in accordance with procedures established by the commission, that the applicant has derived more than 50 percent of his income earned from the capture and sale of seafood species in at least two of the three years, 1993, 1994 or 1995.

Hoop Net: One inch square or two inches stretched mesh (minimum) after treating with tar or copper. Hoop nets without leads may be left unattended in saltwater areas for the sole purpose of taking catfish.

Trawl: any net generally funnel-shaped, pulled through the water or along the bottom with otter boards to spread the mouth open while being fished. This gear is only allowed to be used in waters where and when the shrimp season is open.

Trotline: any set line which is 440 yards or less to which hoop drops are tied at various intervals or gangions and hoods are attached and which may be retrieved manually or by electric or hydraulic haulers.


Sailfish, blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin,hatchet marlin, white marlin and red drum are designated game fish with the commercial sale or purchase prohibited unless fish are imported and tagged with metal self locking tags placed in one operculum of each fish. Tags to be issued by the official conservation agency of the state from which the fish were taken and showing the originating water body and identity of the issuing agency, EXCEPT that red drum need only be accompanied by a bill of lading in accordance with L.R.S. 56:327 and 327.1, or unless certified by LDWF as having been raised and taken in accordance with a certified aquaculture program or a valid mariculture permit pursuant to L.R.S. 56:579.1. LDWF must be notified at 1-800-442-2511 or (225) 765-2441 prior to importation of these fish.