Crab in trap

Credit: J. Lively

The 30-day closure of the blue crab commercial fishery and use of crab traps ended Tuesday, March 21. Commercial and recreational crabbers could return their crab traps to Louisiana state waters beginning 30 minutes before legal sunrise, as described in statue, on Wednesday, March 22.

Here are some new regulations still in place for commercial crabbers and recreational users of crab traps:

Effective January 1, 2017, and to extend through 2019:

The commercial harvest of immature female blue crabs is prohibited. There is an exception for immature female blue crabs held for processing as softshell crabs or being sold to a processor for the making of softshell crabs. Only crabs at the “white line” stage or later can be held for making of softshell crabs. Additionally, legally licensed commercial crab fishermen may have an incidental take of immature female crabs not to exceed two percent of the total number of crabs in possession. Crabs in a work box, used to sort or cull undersized and/or immature female crabs, are not subject to the restriction while held aboard an active fishing vessel.

An immature female crab, also known as a “maiden” or “V-bottom” crab, can be identified as having a triangular shaped apron on her abdomen. A mature female crab can be identified as having a dome shaped apron on her abdomen.

Effective November 15, 2017:

A minimum of three escape rings should be placed on the vertical, outside walls flush with the trap floor or baffle with at least two rings located in the upper chamber of each trap. The minimum size of rings should be 2 and 3/8 inches inside diameter. Any crab trap constructed of wire mesh 2 and 5/16 inches square or greater is exempt from escape ring requirements. The above escape ring requirements will be effective in Lake Pontchartrain on November 15 as well.