Oyster Regulation

Closed Areas

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) may close any oyster area for health reasons. Call 1-800-256-2775 for more information. If LDWF finds a vessel harvesting oysters within an unapproved or closed area, all oysters on board the vessel shall be deemed to have been taken from the unapproved or closed waters. LDWF will seize these oysters and return them to the water. LDWF may also revoke the oyster harvester’s license(s) under which the violation occurred.

Removing Oysters

Public grounds: You may use dredges, scrapers, and tongs to take oysters from public grounds during the open season. Dredges and scrapers can be no longer than six feet wide measured along the tooth bar. Dredge teeth shall be no longer than five inches. Vessels shall use no more than seven dredges at a time.

Private leases: Lessees may use any implements or appliances they want as long as they do not impair or destroy the water bottom.

Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes: You may harvest oysters during the open season with the following gear:

•   Tongs

•   Hand dredge

•   Single dredge with mechanical assist that has a tooth bar no longer than 36 inches

•   Single scraper with mechanical assist with a flat bar no longer than 36 inches.

In both lakes, your vessel must be self- propelled. Commercial harvest is restricted to a daily sack limit as set by the Commission. The daily sack limit applies per person per vessel per day. 

Trawl, Seine, and Skimmer Use

You may not trawl, seine, or use skimmer nets over privately leased bedding grounds for one year immediately following the seeding of such area. The area must be marked or posted as required by law. If you knowingly trawl or use skimmer nets upon such marked areas, you are liable for damages caused to the lessee.

Unlawful Removal of Oysters or Signs

You are not allowed to knowingly or willfully take, carry away, or attempt to take or carry away, any oysters, shell, or cultch from a leased area, unless you have permission from the lessee. Additionally, you are not allowed to willfully remove or alter any stake, monument, bounds, buoy, sign, or other designation of bedding or propagating ground placed by LDWF or in accordance with its regulations.

Cleanliness of Shellfish Vessels

You must wash decks, holds, or binds used for storage of shellfish daily. Unless otherwise exempted in writing by LDHH, you must have a suspended awning (tarp) on your harvest vessel to protect shellfish from direct exposure to sun, birds, and other adverse conditions. It must be at least 12 inches high but no more than 7 feet high and extend to the outer edges of the vessel.

Sewage Disposal on Shellfish Vessels

Owners and operators of all vessels shall provide suitable waste receptacles with tight fitting lids. These receptacles must be properly labeled with the wording “FOR HUMAN WASTE ONLY” with letters no smaller than 1 ½ inches tall. Waste receptacles must have a capacity of at least 2 gallons for each person on the vessel. You must dispose of the contents of such receptacles by means of a municipal sewer system, by incineration, or by burial in the ground.

Culling Oysters

You may only cull oysters from open state-designated public grounds or leases from which you are authorized to take oysters. When removing oysters from natural reefs, you must immediately return any oysters measuring less than three inches from hinge to mouth and any dead shell back to the natural reefs from which they were taken. This does not apply if you are lawfully removing seed oysters from natural reefs or if you are a lessee of private bedding grounds harvesting your own oysters.

LDWF may permit lessees to fish oysters of any size, without charge, from the natural reefs of the waters of Louisiana for bedding purposes only. LDWF may designate from which natural reefs oysters may be fished and the quantity that may be taken.

Harvester Log Sheet

Both the harvester and the first certified dealer must complete the Harvester-Dealer Time / Temperature Log Sheet to document compliance with time to refrigeration requirements. The log sheet must be maintained for one year. Log sheets for the previous 15 days must be kept aboard harvest vessel.

Cooler Log Sheet

Oysters harvested for raw consumption (white tag) must adhere to the applicable time and temperature controls established by the Vibrio vulnificus control plan. During the months May 1st to October 31st harvesters are required to maintain a boat cooler log sheet. The harvester must provide harvest records to the original shellfish dealer demonstrating compliance with the time and temperature requirements. The record must include the date and time harvest begins for each lot of shellfish harvested. It shall be the responsibility of the harvester to properly separate and identify each lot upon being placed under refrigeration.

Harvesters fishing for white tag oysters must attach a tag or label on all containers holding shell-stock, with the corresponding lot identification number or character printed legibly on the tag or label, prior to being placed under refrigeration. This tag or label shall be approved by the state health officer, and the Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Landing Oysters

If you’re harvesting oysters from Louisiana’s public reefs for sale or consumption, you must land them in Louisiana. You must properly tag and sack or containerize them and pay applicable severance taxes. Licensed oyster captains and harvesters of shell stock must verify that all oyster measurements are accurately reported by weight, count or volume.

You may land oysters harvested from a private lease in Louisiana’s waters outside the state, provided LDWF has permitted you to do so and the oysters are properly tagged. You must install a VMS unit on the vessel used to transport oysters to another state and allow LDWF to access the system.

Separating White Tag Oysters Into 'Lots' 

Harvesters fishing for white tag oysters much attach a tag or label on all containers holding shell-stock, with the corresponding lot identification number or character printed legibly on the tag or label, prior to refrigerating them. This tag or label shall be approved by the state health officer and the Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.