The state of Louisiana owns water bottoms and the oysters located upon them. Oyster harvesters may apply to lease water bottoms from the state for oyster production and harvest through LDWF’s Oyster Lease Section. There are approximately 400,000 acres currently under lease. LDWF is in the process of lifting the long-standing moratorium on issuing new oyster leases; the moratorium is being lifted in phases.
Annual Lease Payments
LDWF's Oyster Lease Section works with the Louisiana Office of State Lands, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and leaseholders to manage leases and collect annual payments on leases. The current lease rate is $3 per acre, as of January 2016. LDWF mails annual rental notices to lessees at least 30 days in advance of the due date, which is January 1 of each year.
If a lease requires renewal, the leaseholder (or appointed representative) must appear in person at:
Office hours are 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. See Lease Renewal section for more information.
If a lease does not require renewal, a leaseholder (or appointed representative) may pay rent on the lease either in person or via mail to the address listed above.
Delinquent Oyster Leases
Annual rental fees are due January 1 every year. Leases are delinquent if LDWF has not received annual payment by the first working day of February. On this day, LDWF compiles a list of leases in delinquency for nonpayment of rental fees. The most current list is linked below. LDWF also notifies each lessee by mail that the lease is delinquent. Any rental payment made on or after the first working day of February will be subject to a 10% penalty in addition to the rent owed.
On the first working day of March, LDWF advertises all delinquent leases in the newspaper for the parish in which the lease is located. Any rental payment made on or after this point will include the cost of advertisement and will be subject to a 10% penalty, in addition to the rent owed.
If a lessee fails to pay rent by the close of business on March 1, the lease will be terminated; all works, improvements, betterments, and oysters on the lease will be forfeited back to the state of Louisiana.
See Louisiana Revised Statutes 56:429 and Louisiana Administrative Code Title 76, Part VII, Chapter 5 for additional information.
Oyster lease renewals run December 1 through March 1 every year. The leaseholder must apply to renew the lease in person with LDWF’s Oyster Lease Section at:
Office hours are 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
The leaseholder must present his or her current Louisiana state-issued ID or driver’s license.
If a representative with power of attorney for a lessee is appearing on the lessee’s behalf, the representative must provide proof of age and residency for that lessee.
- Minors: No one under 18 years of age may apply for an oyster lease (new or renewal).
- Nonresidents: If you do not reside in Louisiana, you may not lease water bottoms for oyster cultivation. If you move or claim domicile outside of Louisiana and inherit a lease, you will not be granted the right to renew when the lease expires.
Corporations: If a lease is in the name of a corporation, the corporation must be authorized to conduct business in Louisiana and must be in good standing with the state. If the corporation does not meet these criteria, it will not be allowed to renew when the lease expires. Individuals acting on behalf of a corporation must provide proof of the criteria listed above and must be listed as a registered agent or have a corporate resolution granting signature authority.
Estates: Only the court-appointed representative may renew a lease held by an estate. The representative must present either a court-ordered Judgment of Possession placing the heirs in possession of the lease or a court order appointing an administrator of the estate. Anyone attempting to renew a lease without one of these documents will be refused. These documents involve the judicial opening of a succession and take time to obtain. Plan ahead and do not wait until the renewal deadline before starting this process.
Rules and Regulations
Although water bottoms and oysters are technically the property of the state, leaseholders primarily manage the oyster resources on their private oyster leases as state law provides the lessee with exclusive use of the water bottom. Leaseholders are free to actively cultivate and harvest oysters on their leased acreage. They also maintain the right to be compensated for damages to the oyster resources on their lease from other private entities—other commercial fishermen, oil and gas operators, etc. Leaseholders may not, however, hold state and federal agencies accountable for damages. These agencies are held harmless from coastal restoration-related impacts to oyster leases.
Specific rules and regulations regarding oysters leases are in Louisiana Revised Statutes 56:425-432 and Louisiana Administrative Code Title 76, Part VII, Chapter 5.