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Recreational Crab, Oyster, and Shrimp

Crab

Licenses and Permits

You do not need a license to harvest crabs recreationally with crab nets or crab lines. 

However, if you’re harvesting crabs recreationally on LDWF WMAs or refuges, you must have a Basic Fishing License or a Wild Louisiana Stamp.

If you’re harvesting crabs recreationally with crab traps, you must have:

Gear Restrictions

You may harvest blue or stone crabs recreationally with any legal crab trap, crab drop net, trawl*, hoop net, trotline, handline, bushline, dip net, or cast net. Dredges are prohibited for intentional recreational harvest of crabs.

*You may only harvest crabs recreationally with trawls during the open shrimp season; trawl gear restrictions apply. See Shrimp section below.

Crab traps:

  • No more than 10 traps per licensed fisherman
  • Must be marked with a 2-inch stainless steel self-locking tag attached to the center of the trap ceiling or durable plastic bait box marker. The tag or marker must have the fisherman’s recreational crab trap gear license number.
  • Must be marked with a solid float at least 6 inches in diameter. The float must be attached to the trap with a non-floating line at least ¼-inch in diameter. Floats are not required in most freshwater areas north of the northern bank of the Intracoastal Waterway and west of LA Highway 70 and areas on the eastern side of the Mississippi River and inland from the saltwater line (except in lakes).
  • May be attached to a trotline; one end of the trotline must be attached to a non-floating line and a visible float at least 6 inches in diameter or 2-gallon volume size.
  • Must have at least three escape rings placed on the vertical outside walls flush with the trap floor or baffle; at least two rings must be located in the upper chamber of the trap. Single chambered traps must have three rings placed on the vertical outside walls flush with the trap floor. The rings must be rigid, 2-3/8 inches in inside diameter not including the ring material, and attached to the trap with material of a smaller diameter than the wire strands of the trap. You may cover escape ring openings with material that prevents or hampers exit of crabs from April 1 through June 30 and from September 1 through October 31. Escape ring requirements do not apply to crab traps constructed of wire mesh 2-5/16 square inches or greater.
  • Must not be placed in navigable channels or entrances to streams. You must place traps so vessels can safely navigate.
  • No metal tackle or metal crab traps in any public waters north of the Intracoastal Waterway in the Calcasieu River, in any waterbody in the Calcasieu River System north of the Intracoastal Waterway, or in Vermilion Bay from Cypremort Point, one mile offshore to Blue Point.
  • No crab traps in the Tchefuncte River.
  • May be prohibited on certain LDWF WMAs and refuges. Consult your local LDWF office or see the latest recreational regulations for details.
  • Owners must remove and properly dispose of or store crab traps that are no longer serviceable or no longer in use.
  • Only the licensed crab trap owner or his agent may remove the contents of their crab traps or intentionally damage or destroy serviceable crab traps or their floats or lines.

There may be additional gear restrictions within WMAs, refuges, or other areas. Consult your local LDWF office or see the latest recreational regulations for details.

Seasons and Times

  • You may harvest blue crabs recreationally year-round. However, you are required to remove your crab traps during any closures such as those for derelict crab trap cleanups. See the Derelict Crab Trap Removal page for more information.
  • No baiting, tending, checking, or removing serviceable crab traps in use, the contents of such traps or their lines, buoys, or markers in public waters at night (a half hour after legal sunset until a half hour before legal sunrise). 

Size and Possession Limits

  • There is no recreational minimum size limit for blue crabs, stone crabs, or stone crab claws.
  • The recreational possession limit for blue crabs is 12 dozen per person per day.
  • No one may harvest adult female crabs in the berry stage (carrying eggs or young attached to the abdomen). You must return crabs in the berry stage immediately to the water.
  • Certain WMAs and state and federal refuges may have different possession limits. Consult your local LDWF office or see the latest recreational regulations for details.
  • There is no minimum recreational size or possession limit for stone crabs or stone crab claws.

 

Oyster

Licenses and Permits

To harvest oysters recreationally, you must have:

*If you’re a resident age 60 or older, you must instead have a Senior Fishing License. This license is in lieu of Basic and Saltwater fishing licenses. However, you must still obtain the appropriate gear licenses.

Gear Restrictions

You may only harvest oysters recreationally with tongs or by hand.

Areas

  • You may harvest oysters recreationally from a private lease only with written permission from the lessee or in public oyster areas open for oyster harvest.
  • You may only cull oysters (separating undersized oysters or dead shell and returning them to the water) over the reefs where they were harvested.
  • You must land oysters harvested from Louisiana’s reefs in Louisiana, unless you have a valid Out-of-State Oyster Landing Permit and comply with all other rules and regulations.
  • Oyster harvest is prohibited in Sabine Lake.

Seasons and Times

  • The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission opens and closes public oyster areas based on biological and technical data. See the Oyster Season page for the most current information.
  • The lessee of an oyster lease, or his designee with written permission, may fish oysters at any time of year on their lease.
  • No one may harvest oysters at night (between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise).
  • Note: The Louisiana Department of Health may close public oyster areas and private leases for public health reasons. Always pay attention to areas closed by LDH to make sure the area is safe to harvest oysters. Go to LDH’s site for information.

Size and Possession Limits

  • All oysters taken from public oyster areas must be 3 inches or greater in length from hinge to mouth.
  • Size limits do not apply to oysters taken from a private lease.
  • Recreational oyster harvesters may only harvest two sacks per person per day for personal consumption, except in the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster area where the limit is one sack per person per day. Possession limits apply to both public areas and private leases.

 

Shrimp

Licenses and Permits

If you’re harvesting shrimp recreationally with a cast net, you need a Basic Fishing License.  

If you’re harvesting shrimp recreationally with a trawl, you need:

You do not need a license to use bait seines or dip nets to harvest shrimp recreationally.

If you’re harvesting shrimp recreationally in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, you must have a Federal Shrimp Vessel Permit from NOAA Fisheries. Contact NOAA Fisheries at 877.376.4877 for more information. Additional federal regulations apply.   

Gear Restrictions

Cast nets, dip nets, and bait seines:

  • Cast nets must not exceed 8-1/2 feet in radius.
  • Bait seines must not exceed 30 feet in length.

Trawls:

  • Must be no longer than 25 feet
  • Mesh must be at least 5/8-inch bar or 1-1/4 inches stretched; exception: mesh must be at least ¾-inch bar or 1-1/2 inches stretched during the fall inshore shrimp season in state from the western shore of the Atchafalaya River to the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island
  • Must have an approved turtle excluder device (TED) installed in each net rigged for fishing. Exception: manually retrieved trawls and test trawls. Instead, shrimpers fishing with manually retrieved or test trawls must limit their tow times to 75 minutes from November 1 through March 31 and 55 minutes from April 1 through October 31 to reduce potential impacts on sea turtles.
  • You may not leave net or beam trawls unattended.
  • No trawling in state waters when the shrimp season is closed.
  • No trawling over any privately leased bedding grounds or oyster propagating place that is staked off, marked, or posted as required by law or regulation.
  • No trawling in Lake Maurepas and in Lake Pontchartrain from the shoreline to 1-1/4 miles out from the Jefferson/Orleans Parish line east to the eastern shore of South Point, from South Point to North Shore along the railroad bridge west from North Shore to Goose Point, and between the railroad bridge and Interstate 10.
  • No trawling in Bayou Judge Perez (Bayou Hermitage) from its entrance into Lake Judge Perez (Bayou Hermitage) to Devils Bayou, about 1 mile in distance, in Plaquemines Parish.
  • No trawling north of the LA Highway 631 Bridge at Des Allemands and in Lac Des Allemands, its streams, and tributaries.
  • No trawling in the cove immediately adjacent to Cypremort Point State Park landward of a line from Blue Point to Cypremort Point to the shoreline.

Seasons and Times

  • You may not use trawls for any purpose in state waters while the shrimp season is closed.
    Shrimp seasons are flexible and are determined by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission based upon biological and technical data relative to shrimp populations as well as public input. See the Shrimp Season page for the most current information.
  • You may not harvest shrimp at night (between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise) in the following areas:
    • Vermilion Bay
    • East and West Cote Blanche bays
    • Atchafalaya Bay from the western shore of Vermilion Bay to the western shore of the Atchafalaya River and the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel out to Eugene Island as described by the inside-outside line.
  • No trawling for shrimp at night in the Cameron Parish sections of Calcasieu Lake, the Black Bayou System, Grand Bayou, Little Burton’s Ditch, Grand Lake, and White Lake.
  • No trawling for shrimp from May 1 through September 15 each year in state waters on the south side of Grand Isle from Caminada Pass to Barataria Pass in Jefferson Parish, from the southeast side of the Caminada bridge to the northwest side of Barataria Pass at Fort Livingston, extending from the beach side of Grand Isle to a distance of 500 feet beyond the shoreline into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • There are restricted areas within WMAs, refuges and other areas; these areas may be closed to certain gear types or methods of fishing and may have different regulations. Check with your local LDWF office or see the latest recreational regulations for details.

Size and Possession Limits

Size Limits:

  • There is no size limit for any saltwater shrimp harvested during the spring open season nor for brown or seabob shrimp harvested during any open season.
  • White shrimp is legal size when a pound of white shrimp equals 100 whole shrimp or less. You may not harvest sub-legal white shrimp, except from October 15 through the third Monday in December. Also, when more than half of your catch is seabob or brown shrimp, no more than 10% (by weight) of your catch may be sub-legal size white shrimp.

Possession Limits:

  • Recreational fishermen using cast nets, dip nets, or bait seines may not take more than 50 pounds of shrimp per day during closed shrimp season and 100 pounds of shrimp per day during the open season, in aggregate, per boat or vehicle, regardless of the number of people onboard or in the vehicle.
  • Recreational shrimpers using trawls 16 feet in length or less are limited to 100 pounds (heads on) of shrimp per boat per day.
  • Recreational shrimpers using trawls between 16 and 25 feet in length are limited to no more than 250 pounds of (heads-on) shrimp per day per boat.
  • Recreational fishermen may only use shrimp they harvest for bait or their own consumption. These shrimp may not be sold, traded, or otherwise permitted to enter commerce.
  • Certain WMAs and state and federal refuges may have different possession limits. Consult your local LDWF office or see the latest recreational regulations for details.