Officials with The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced today that beginning August 1, as a result of Act No. 14 of the 2014 regular legislative session, Louisiana commercial shrimp fishermen are allowed to modify the dimensions of their skimmer nets.
The Louisiana Shrimp Task Force gathered input from industry members through public meetings and worked with Representative Joe Harrison to introduce Act No. 14 which includes the following changes:
- Skimmer nets may be mounted to the horizontal net frame at any distance from the gunwale of the vessel as long as the mounting distance and horizontal length of the net frame does not exceed 20 feet from the gunwale.
- Maximum length of the horizontal net frame increased from 16 feet to 20 feet from the gunwale of the vessel.
- Maximum length of the vertical frame “down pipe” attached to the skid is removed and fishermen may use vertical frames of any length.
- The entire opening of the skimmer net shall not exceed 72 feet as measured along the hanging. This measurement includes the length of the cork line together with the depth of the wings and length of the lead line.
- Maximum length of skimmer net lead line increased from 28 feet to 33 feet (same as maximum length of a 25 foot trawl lead line).
It is important to note that legal skimmer net frames and nets in use today will remain legal and no fisherman is forced to purchase any new rigging or nets. These new regulations are intended to provide fishermen with options for developing net configurations that work more efficiently in waters where they fish while providing greater economic opportunities. These new changes affect skimmer net gear only; regulations on butterfly nets whether mounted on stationary platforms or vessels remain unchanged.
For clarification, an example sketch of legal and illegal skimmer net frames can be found here. This sketch provides an example only, as other skimmer net frame configurations using horizontal measurements less than 20 feet may be legal.