LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - 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 rule prohibits the recreational and commercial take and/or possession of mature female blue crab for 35 days beginning September 9, 2019, and ending October 13, 2019.
These changes are expected to result in a less negative impact on the crab fishery than the 60-day spring full closure of the commercial fishery originally proposed while maintaining the same level of protection to the blue crab stock.
“Every year we get complaints that the crab population has been decreasing. It’s just a common thing, I guess,” said Wildlife & Fisheries agent Matthew Perkins.
In Louisiana, female blue crabs are a dime a dozen, so if you’re an avid crabber, chances are they’ve ended up in your catch.
“We’re trying to balance both the crabbing industry and the resource itself," said Perkins.
Perkins said this new regulation which will not only affect commercial fisherman but recreational use as well, is one of the last items in a three-year plan imposed by the state to help make sure that the crab supply meets demand.
The first year was 30 days, the second year was the 60 day ban on only females, and this new 35 day ban has fluctuated," said Perkins.
On average 45-million pounds of crabs are caught in Louisiana each year. However, recent data shows a slight decrease in the overall stock assessment of blue crabs, but are the recent bans helping the overall crab population?
“It depends on where you are in the state. Some areas I’ve heard reports that are good some areas they are down," Perkins said.
The big difference with this year’s regulation is that it just doesn’t apply to commercial fishermen as it did in year’s past. Perkins says it also applies to those who like to crab for fun.
“Until now, there are zero regulations for recreational crabbing...it’s been open to anything but now you just can’t keep female crabs.”
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 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 are possessed. Crabs in a workbox 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.
The recreational and commercial harvest of legal-sized male blue crabs remains open during this period.