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Commercial Crawfish

Harvesting, Processing, and Selling

Louisiana fishermen have been harvesting crawfish commercially since at least the late 1800s. In the late 1940s, rice farmers developed a method to farm crawfish. Farm-raised and wild-caught crawfish crops generally complement each other—farm-raised crawfish are available late fall through mid-spring, and, if conditions are favorable, wild-caught crawfish dominate the market from mid-spring to early summer. The rivers, bayous, swamps, and lakes of the Atchafalaya and Vermilion-Teche basins are significant sources of wild crawfish, but the vast majority of the state’s crawfish production is farm-raised in thousands of acres of crawfish ponds. With more than 1,000 crawfish fishermen and more than 1,300 crawfish farmers, Louisiana leads the nation in crawfish production, supplying 100 to 120 million pounds per year. Louisiana’s crawfish industry contributes more than $300 million to the state’s economy annually.

Wild Crawfish

LDWF is responsible for monitoring and managing wild crawfish through gear, licensing, and reporting requirements. Harvest controls are not necessary to protect the crawfish resource as their populations are resilient and influenced by environmental conditions, rather than fishing. While biologists conduct studies on wild crawfish, they do not sample and survey the populations like other fishery resources. To monitor wild crawfish harvests, LDWF requires docks that purchase crawfish directly from commercial fishermen to submit trip tickets to capture information about their catch—what it is, where and how it was caught, etc. Commercial fishermen who sell their catch directly to consumers are also required to complete and submit trip tickets.

Farm-Raised Crawfish

Since farm-raised crawfish are an agricultural product, they fall under the purview of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other agencies. However, farmers who plan to resell their crawfish must have the appropriate licenses from LDWF and other agencies.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and ForestryU.S. Department of Agriculture


— Did You Know? —

Today, crawfish is not only still a staple throughout Louisiana at backyard crawfish boils and on restaurant tables but is also growing in popularity in other markets.

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