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      RS 56:332     

  

§332. Crabs; release of crabs in berry stage; method of taking crabs; time limitations; by-catch; penalties; abandoned crab trap removal program; escape rings

            A. Crabs of legal size may be taken using any gear identified in R.S. 56:320(B)(3); however, the taking of crabs by means of trawls in inside waters is permitted only during the open season for shrimp. In no event, however, shall a person use a trawl with a mesh size less than that of commercial shrimp trawls for the purpose of taking crabs during the open season for shrimp.

            B. No person shall keep or sell adult female crabs in the berry stage, that is, when they are carrying the eggs or young attached to the abdomen. All crabs in the berry stage taken by any means shall be returned immediately to the waters. However, a legally licensed commercial crab fisherman may have in his workbox an incidental take of crabs in the berry stage in an amount equal to not more than two percent of the total number of crabs in his possession.

            C.(1) The baiting, tending, checking, or removing of serviceable crab traps in use and the contents of such crab traps or their lines, buoys, or markers shall be prohibited in public waters during the time period from one-half hour after legal sunset until one-half hour before legal sunrise.

            (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, violation of any provisions of this Subsection constitutes a class four violation.

            D. The commission shall promulgate and adopt rules and regulations to establish a marking system for crab traps sufficient to enable the department's agents to clearly identify crab traps including the name and license number of the owner of such crab traps and sufficient to enforce all laws relative to such crab traps.

            E.(1) Except as provided in Subsection N of this Section, crab traps which are no longer serviceable or in use shall be removed from the water by the owner thereof and properly disposed of or stored by him. Except as provided in Subsection N of this Section, no person shall intentionally damage or destroy serviceable crab traps or the floats or lines attached thereto, or remove the contents thereof, other than the licensee or his agent.

            (2) A person intentionally discarding an unserviceable crab trap in navigable waters shall be guilty of a class two violation.

            F. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, theft of a crab trap shall constitute a class 4 violation.

            G. No crab traps shall be set in navigable channels or entrances to streams. It shall be the responsibility of the crab fisherman to place his crab traps so vessels can safely navigate and also to dispose of his unserviceable crab traps. Violation of any provision of this Subsection shall be a class two violation. A shrimper who catches an unserviceable crab trap shall keep it on board his vessel and properly dispose of it at a designated disposal site if one is available. Except as provided in Subsection N of this Section, a shrimper who catches an otherwise serviceable trap without a float shall return it to the water with a common float. Any fisherman with a crab fishing license may raise and check any trap with a common float to determine ownership. The owner of the trap shall return the common float to any shrimper for reuse. The color of the common float shall be determined by the commission.

            H. Violation of any provision of this Section constitutes a class four violation, except as otherwise provided herein.

            I. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the taking of crabs with legal crab traps, crab pots, nets, and lines shall be permitted in the Lake Catherine and Lake Pontchartrain Sanctuary including the waters of Lake Catherine, and its passes, the Rigolets, Unknown Pass, and Chef Menteur, and that portion of Lake Pontchartrain as follows: The whole area from where the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Passes enter Lake Pontchartrain extending in a westerly direction to a point four miles west of the Southern Railway Bridge, being all of Lake Pontchartrain and its tributaries lying east of the Southern Railway Bridge, and all that portion of Lake Pontchartrain extending four miles west of the Southern Railway Bridge, between the northern and southern shore line, as well as that portion extending out four miles from shore along the Orleans Parish shore line to the Jefferson-Orleans Parish line, and that area of Lake Pontchartrain along the north shore extending out four miles from shore and running from the Southern Railway Bridge to a line drawn between a point four miles southwest of Goose Point and Goose Point.

            J. Metal tackle or metal crab traps shall not be used in any of the public waters north of the Intracoastal Canal in the Calcasieu River or in any body of water comprising the Calcasieu River System north of the Intracoastal Canal, or in the waters of Vermilion Bay from Cypremort Point one mile offshore to Blue Point.

            K. Except as otherwise provided in this Subsection, each crab trap shall have a minimum of three escape rings. All escape rings shall 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 the trap. The minimum sizes of the rings shall be two and three-eighths inches in inside diameter, not including the ring material. The rings shall be rigid and attached to the trap with material of a smaller diameter than the wire strands of the trap. Except from April first through June thirtieth and from September first through October thirty-first, escape ring openings shall not be obstructed with any material that prevents or hampers exit of crabs. However, the provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to any crab trap constructed of wire mesh two and five-sixteenths inches square or greater.

            L. The limit for blue crabs taken for recreational purposes shall be twelve dozen, or one hundred forty-four crabs, daily and in possession.

            M.(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of R.S. 56:320, a licensed commercial fisherman may retain for personal consumption finfish caught as by-catch in crab traps up to an aggregate of twenty-five finfish per vessel per day. However, no game fish or spotted sea trout may be kept as a part of the aggregate allowed by the provisions of this Subsection. Any fish kept under the provisions of this Subsection shall be subject to statutory and regulatory size and possession limits applicable to recreational fishing.

            (2) In addition to any fish retained as by-catch, any licensed commercial fisherman holding a gear license which allows him to take finfish for commercial purposes may possess any finfish caught under that gear license up to the commercial possession limit allowable for such finfish and such finfish shall not be required to be segregated from the by-catch allowed in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.

            N.(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission may develop and establish a program to remove abandoned crab traps from state-owned lake and river beds and other water bottoms of the state. Any crab trap found in state-owned lakes and river beds and other water bottoms of the state during a period of time when their use has been prohibited by the commission under the provisions of Paragraph (2) of this Subsection shall be considered abandoned and may be removed by those persons authorized by the commission.

            (2) The commission may prohibit crab traps in state-owned lake and river beds and other water bottoms of the state as follows:

            (a) During a sixteen-consecutive-day period between February first and March thirty-first, the commission may prohibit crab traps in one or more geographical areas of the state.

            (b) During a fourteen-consecutive-day period of time which includes the opening day of the spring inshore shrimp season the commission may prohibit crab traps in one or more geographical areas of the state.

            (c) At any time crab harvest is closed for biological or technical reasons, the commission may prohibit crab traps for the duration of the closure.

            (d) The period of time for the prohibitions of crab traps authorized in Subparagraphs (a) and (b) of this Paragraph shall be specified by the commission for each geographical area, which period may be for fewer than the sixteen consecutive days, but shall consist of consecutive days within the sixteen-consecutive-day period.

            (3) The commission shall adopt and promulgate under the Administrative Procedure Act rules and regulations to provide for a prohibition on the use of crab traps and for the removal of abandoned traps and their disposal. The rules shall, at a minimum, specify the beginning and ending dates for the prohibition on the use of crab traps, the geographical area within which the use of crab traps shall be prohibited, who is authorized to remove the abandoned traps, and the disposition of the abandoned traps.

            Acts 1974, No. 223, §1. Amended by Acts 1977, No. 742, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1978; Acts 1978, No. 328, §1, eff. July 10, 1978; Acts 1978, No. 662, §1; Acts 1979, No. 280, §1; Acts 1979, No. 606, §1; Acts 1981, No. 479, §1; Acts 1981, No. 838, §1; Acts 1984, No. 230, §1, eff. June 29, 1984; Acts 1986, No. 904, §§3, 4; Acts 1987, No. 602, §1; Acts 1987, No. 854, §1; Acts 1988, No. 119, §1; Acts 1988, No. 330, §§1, 2; Acts 1989, No. 591, §1; Acts 1989, No. 738, §1; Acts 1989, No. 739, §1; Acts 1991, No. 859, §1; Acts 1995, No. 1044, §1; Acts 1997, No. 302, §1; Acts 1999, No. 179, §1; Acts 1999, No. 422, §1, eff. June 18, 1999; Acts 2003, No. 48, §1; Acts 2003, No. 565, §1; Acts 2003, No. 566, §1; Acts 2006, No. 401, §1, eff. Nov. 15, 2006; Acts 2008, No. 23, §1, eff. July 1, 2008; Acts 2010, No. 932, §1; Acts 2013, No. 16, §1; Acts 2014, No. 539, §1, eff. Nov. 15, 2017; Acts 2017, No. 153, §1; Acts 2018, No. 338, §1.



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