At its September 6, 2018 meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a Notice of Intent to change regulations for the recreational and commercial harvest of blue crabs in 2019. The proposed rule would change the season during which the harvest of mature female blue crabs is closed, currently set for mid-March to mid-April 2019, to September 9 – October 13, 2019. The proposal will also include banning the recreational harvest of female blue crab during that season. These changes are expected to result in less negative impact on the crab fishery while maintaining the same level of protection to the blue crab stock.
The changes are listed below :
- The recreational and commercial take of female blue crab from any of the waters of the state or the possession of female blue crabs while on waters of the state is prohibited for a thirty-five day period beginning the second Monday of September in 2019 (September 9 – October 13, 2019). All female blue crab in possession of any persons on the water shall be deemed to have been taken from the waters of the state.
- These regulations will replace the previous 30-day closure, imposed in 2017, and the 60-day female harvest restriction imposed in the spring of 2018, and the previously proposed restriction in spring of 2019.
- Removal of the sunset provision on the currently established ban on the commercial harvest of immature female blue crabs, making the ban permanent.
Regulations on commercial female blue crab harvest to remain in effect in 2018 and 2019 are as follows:
- Commercial harvest of immature female blue crabs is illegal. A commercial fisherman may possess an incidental take of immature female crabs in an amount not to exceed two percent of the total number of crabs that is possessed. 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.)
- 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.
Interested persons may submit written comments relative to the proposed rule to Peyton Cagle, Marine Fisheries Biologist DCL-B, Marine Fisheries Section, 1213 N. Lakeshore Dr., Lake Charles, LA 70601, or via e-mail to email@example.com prior to November 28, 2018.