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      RS 56:326     

  

§326.  Size and possession limits; commercial fish

A.  The following are the legal size limits on commercial fish.  No person shall take or possess these fish under or over the prescribed sizes for commercial purposes.  Fish of the prescribed legal size may be taken, had in possession, or sold in unlimited quantities, provided there is compliance with all other requirements of the law.  Any commercial fish under the minimum prescribed size or over the maximum prescribed size shall be returned immediately to the waters from which taken without avoidable injury.  No person shall sell, purchase, barter, trade, or exchange, or attempt to sell, purchase, barter, trade, or exchange, any commercial species under the minimum prescribed size or over a maximum prescribed size or creel limit.  Any commercial species upon which there is no specific size limit may be taken in any size or quantity.  Notwithstanding any other provisions stated above, commercial fish under the legal size may be taken from privately owned ponds, impoundments, or waters by the owner thereof or his authorized representative and may be sold to other persons for purposes of stocking private waters, ponds, or impoundments.

(1)  Hardshell crabs -- 5 inches in width as measured from point to point of the upper shell, except when held for processing as soft crabs or sold to a processor for the making of crabs.  Violation of this provision constitutes a class 3 violation.

(2)  Premolt crabs less than five inches in width held by a fisherman for processing as softshell crabs or sold by him to a processor for the making of softshell crabs must be identifiable as premolt crabs and must be held in a separate container marked "peelers" or "busters" while in the possession of the fisherman.  Obvious signs that such crabs are in the premolt stage shall include the fact that they are no further from molting than having a white line on the back paddle fin, which is recognized by the crab industry as a premolt stage.

(3)  Spotted sea trout - Fourteen inches minimum total length with the mouth closed.

(4)  Repealed by Acts 1991, No. 157, §2, eff. July 2, 1991.

(5)  Sheepshead--10 inches minimum total length with the mouth closed.

(6)  Buffalo fish--16 inches minimum total length with the mouth closed.

(7)  Large species of freshwater catfishes:

(a)  The blue catfish, locally called Mississippi cat -- 12 inches minimum length with the mouth closed; the flathead catfish locally called yellow cat, Opelousas cat, or goujon -- 14 inches minimum length with the mouth closed;

(b)  The channel catfish, locally called the white catfish, the eel catfish, or the willow catfish -- eleven inches minimum length with the mouth closed or eight inches with the collarbone off; however, the commission is authorized to suspend or reduce by resolution, the legal size limit on channel catfish in those areas of the state where biological data indicates that such a suspension or reduction in the size limit would not be detrimental to the resource.

(c)  There is no size limit on any species of bullhead or small species of catfish, locally called pollywog or tadpole cat.

(8)  Paddlefish (spoonbill cat)--weighing not less than 15 pounds in the rough.

(9)  Gaspergou--12 inches minimum length with mouth closed.

(10)  Repealed by Acts 1992, No. 256, §2, eff. July 1, 1993.

(11)  Diamond back terrapin--6 inches in length measuring the plastron or under the shell.

(12)(a)  Stone crab - two and three-fourths inches minimum propodus (claw) length. Whole stone crabs shall not be landed.  Only legal size stone crab claws shall be put or set onto shore from a vessel.

(b)  It shall be deemed a violation of this Section if more than one stone crab is possessed per each crate of blue crabs or group of blue crabs equivalent to one crate, excluding a work box.

(c)  Live stone crabs may be held on board a vessel while on the water until such time as the claws are removed after which time the crabs shall be returned to the waters from which they were taken.

B.(1)  However, as to all commercial fish five percent of the total number of each species in possession may be smaller than the legal limit.

(2)  To determine whether the total number of crabs in possession violates this Subsection, the enforcement agent shall take a random sample of fifty crabs from each crate or group of crabs equivalent to one crate.  Notwithstanding (B)(1), if more than ten percent of the crabs in that fifty crab random sample are less than the minimum size limit set by law, the entire number of crabs in that crate or group of crabs equivalent to one crate shall be considered to be in violation.

(3)  Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection B(1) of this Section, ten percent of the total number of channel catfish (Ictalurus punetatus), locally called the white cat, the eel cat, or the willow cat, in possession may be smaller than the legal limit.

(4)  Crabs in a work box, as defined in R.S. 56:8, shall not be subject to the minimum prescribed commercial size limits for hardshell crabs while held aboard the vessel.  Commercial crab fishermen shall be allowed to have in possession aboard the vessel, either one work box, if not using a grader, or two work boxes under the grader, if using a grader.

C.  The commission shall have the authority to set seasons, regulate the type of gear used, and set possession limits for speckled trout and other estuarine fish in Calcasieu Lake, located in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes, where it is clearly demonstrated that intense fishing competition exists, or if pollution levels exceed accepted standards, or if biological studies indicate the need.

D.  Repealed by Acts 1991, No. 157, §2, eff. July 2, 1991.

E.(1)(a)  All saltwater finfish except tuna, swordfish, and sharks possessed by a commercial fisherman shall have the head and caudal fin intact until set or put on shore or when sold.  Those species of tuna which have minimum size restrictions may have the head removed so long as the carcass length without the head exceeds the minimum size requirement.  Swordfish and sharks possessed by a commercial fisherman shall not be skinned until set or put on shore or when sold.  No shark fin shall be possessed aboard a vessel unless naturally attached to the original shark carcass.  A shark may have the head removed so long as the carcass length without the head exceeds the legal minimum size requirement, but the shark shall have all fins intact and naturally attached, including the caudal fin.  All garfish  caught or possessed by a commercial fisherman in the saltwater areas of the state may have the head and caudal fin removed, but shall retain a strip of skin sufficient to clearly identify the fish until set or put on shore or when sold.  All saltwater finfish shall be measured in accordance with applicable law.

(b)  For the purpose of consumption at sea aboard the harvesting vessel, a person may have no more than two pounds of finfish parts per person on board the vessel, provided the vessel is equipped to cook such finfish.

(c)  The provisions of this Paragraph shall not apply to bait species.

(2)  Persons commercially fishing for shark must obtain a permit from the secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  Such permit shall be in the immediate possession of the person commercially fishing for shark.  Any shark fisherman who violates a commercial shark fishery regulation shall be subject to the following sanctions:

(a)  Upon the first conviction, the permittee shall have his shark permit voided and shall not be eligible for a new shark permit for a period of twelve months from the date of conviction.

(b)  Upon the second conviction within a five-year period, the permittee shall have his shark permit voided and shall not be eligible for a new shark permit for a period of twenty-four months from the date of conviction.

(c)  Upon the third conviction within a five-year period, the permittee shall have his shark permit voided and shall not ever be eligible for a new shark permit.

(d)  The penalties provided in this Paragraph are mandatory and shall be imposed without benefit of suspension.  Any commercial shark permit that is voided under the provisions of this Paragraph shall be turned over to the court and forfeited to the department.

(e)  Persons convicted of harvesting or selling shark during the period of time when their permit is void or forfeit shall be guilty of a class six violation as defined in R.S. 56:36.

F.(1)(a)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a wholesale or retail dealer and a commercial fisherman may be subject to the penalties provided by law for the possession of undersized crabs.  If the wholesale or retail dealer can provide to wildlife and fisheries agents at the time of discovery the identity of the commercial fisherman who harvested the undersized crabs and subsequently sold such crabs to the wholesale or retail dealer, the dealer shall not be subject to the penalties.  The department may check unboiled crabs for violations of the undersized crab provisions of this Section.

(b)  It shall be an affirmative defense for a wholesale or retail dealer charged with possessing undersized crabs, after the crabs leave the dock or while some or all of the crabs are in transport after leaving the dock, that the invoice or other written documentation possessed by the dealer reflect that the total number of undersized crabs possessed by the dealer did not exceed ten percent of the total number of crabs bought for processing and shipping.

(2)  Commercial fishermen shall tag, mark, or otherwise identify any crabs that are sold, in a manner which will insure that such commercial fisherman can be identified as the person who harvested the crabs.  The identification required herein shall include the commercial fisherman's name, license number, and date on which the crabs were harvested.

(3)  Any commercial fisherman identified as having sold undersized crabs to a wholesale or retail dealer pursuant to this Section shall be subject to the penalties provided in R.S. 56:33.

(4)  Violation of any provisions of this Subsection, except Paragraph (5) of this Subsection, constitutes a class 3 violation.

(5)(a)  No person shall possess more than twice the percentage of undersize crabs allowed by law.  A violation of this Subparagraph shall constitute a class four violation.  Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this Subparagraph shall, in addition to any other penalties imposed in this Subpart, have his crab trap gear license suspended as provided in this Paragraph.

(b)(i)  Upon conviction for violating the provisions of Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph, the defendant's crab trap gear license shall be voided and the defendant shall be prohibited from applying for a new license for a period of six months from the date of conviction.

(ii)  Upon conviction for violating the provisions of Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph for a second time within a five year period, the defendant's crab trap gear license shall be voided and the defendant shall be prohibited from applying for a new license for a period of twelve months from the date of conviction.

(iii)  Upon conviction for violating the provisions of Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph for a third time within a five year period, the defendant's crab trap gear license shall be voided and the defendant shall be permanently prohibited from applying for a new crab trap gear license.

(c)  The penalties provided in Subparagraph (b) of this Paragraph are mandatory and shall be imposed without benefit of suspension.  Any crab trap gear license that is voided under the provisions of this Paragraph shall be turned over to the court and forfeited to the department.

(d)  No person convicted of violating the provisions of Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph shall obtain a crab trap gear license or engage in any activity requiring a crab trap gear license during the period in which he is prohibited from applying for a new license under Items (b)(i) and (ii) of this Paragraph.  A violation of this Subparagraph shall constitute a class six violation and in addition to any other penalties imposed by law, a person convicted of violating this Subparagraph shall be forever barred from applying for a crab trap gear license.

G.  Violation of any provision of this Section for which no penalty has been specifically provided constitutes a class three violation.

H.  The possession limit for the commercial taking of southern flounder shall be ten fish for each licensed fisherman for each consecutive day on the water.  However, the provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to southern flounder caught as by-catch authorized by R.S. 56:492.

Acts 1974, No. 223, §1; Amended by Acts 1974, No. 510, §1; Acts 1981, No. 136, §1; Acts 1984, No. 295, §1, eff. July 1, 1984; Acts 1984, No. 273, §1; S.C.R. No. 36, 1984 R.S.; Acts 1985, No. 160, §1; Acts 1986, No. 613, §1; Acts 1987, No. 383, §1 §2; Acts 1987, No. 549, §1; Acts 1988, No. 330, §1; Acts 1988, No. 889, §1, eff. July 21, 1988; Acts 1988, No. 35, §1; Acts 1989, No. 239, §1, eff. June 26, 1989; Acts 1989, No. 590, §1; Acts 1989, No. 592, §1; Acts 1990, No. 368, §1; Acts 1991, No. 157, §2, eff. July 2, 1991; Acts 1991, No. 641, §1; Acts 1992, No. 256, §2, eff. July 1, 1993; Acts 1992, No. 456, §1; Acts 1995, No. 1043, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1238, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1352, §1; Acts 1999, No. 180, §1; Acts 1999, No. 183, §1; Acts 1999, No. 198, §1; Acts 1999, No. 220, §1; Acts 1999, No. 700, §1; Acts 1999, No. 1170, §1; Acts 2001, No. 150, §1; Acts 2001, No. 163, §1; Acts 2004, No. 598, §1; Acts 2010, No. 293, §1.



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