Louisiana Fall Shrimp Season

SouthShore Administrator - Wednesday, August 23, 2017
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the opening date for the Louisiana fall shrimp season for Friday, August 18 at 6 a.m. The date was selected based on information provided by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and public comments.

To view a map of the opening area visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/shrimp-seasons

The Commission granted authority to the secretary of the department to delay these opening dates if biological and technical data indicate the need to do so; and, to close any portion of Louisiana's inside waters to protect small juvenile white shrimp if biological and technical data indicate the need to do so, or enforcement problems develop. He is also granted the authority to close shrimping in state outside waters to protect sublegal size white shrimp and to reopen any area closed to shrimping when the closure is no longer necessary.

The secretary is further granted the authority to open any area, or reopen any previously closed area, and to open and close special shrimp seasons in any portion of state waters.

Tow Time Regulations Reminder
Federal Turtle Excluder Device (TED) regulations require skimmer net fishermen to limit tow times. Maximum tow times are 55 minutes from April 1 through October 31 and increase to 75 minutes from November 1 through March 31.

For more information, contact Jeffrey Marx (337) 373-0032 or jmarx@wlf.la.gov.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive email alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

Audubon Gulf's Summer of Sustainability Seafood Dinner Series

SouthShore Administrator - Thursday, May 25, 2017

Renowned chefs from the Gulf region will share their passion for local, sustainable seafood at Audubon Nature Institute’s second annual Summer of Sustainability dinner series launching on Thursday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m. and continuing through August. Tickets are going fast! Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

“The first dinner on June 1 is all about oysters, working as both the kickoff to the Summer of Sustainability and the New Orleans Oyster Festival, taking place June 3-4 in Woldenberg Riverfront Park,” said John Fallon, G.U.L.F.’s Assistant Director. “Audubon and Oyster Fest are working closely this year to highlight the importance of having a healthy, sustainable Louisiana oyster industry.”

Hosted by Audubon’s sustainable seafood program, Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), the dinner series raises awareness about seafood sustainability and highlights local chefs working to support Gulf of Mexico fisheries.

“These dinners are a fun, easy, and delicious way for the public to learn about and support sustainable seafood,” continued Fallon. “The amount of culinary talent we have behind this is just astounding, and a testament to how important the issue of seafood sustainability is for us here on the Gulf Coast.”

G.U.L.F.’s Chef Council and Restaurant Partners, comprised of some of New Orleans’ best chefs, will present all-inclusive, multi-course dinners in front of the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico habitat at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

Spearheaded by Tenney Flynn, Chef/Co-Owner of New Orleans restaurant GW Fins, the Chef Council partners with Audubon to spotlight the importance of promoting local, sustainable seafood.

“Seeing the expanded number of talented chefs participating in this dinner series is exciting because it provides a much wider reach to educate consumers about the bounty of seafood available in our backyard, furthering the mission of the Audubon G.U.L.F. program,” said Flynn.

Participating Chefs and Restaurants (subject to change):
• Tenney Flynn-GW Fins
• Susan Spicer-Bayona
• Ryan Prewitt-Peche
• Brian Landry-Borgne
• Alan Ehrich-Audubon Tea Room
• Cory Bahr-Restaurant Cotton
• Alex Harrell-Angeline
• Jason Goodenough-Carrollton Market
• Dana Honn-Carmo
• Allison Richard-High Hat Café
• Alfred Singleton-Café Sbisa
• Austin Kirzner-Red Fish Grill
• Acme Oyster House
• Ruby Bloch – Cavan
• Chris Lynch – Commander’s Palace

The Boats That Chase The Shrimp

SouthShore Administrator - Monday, May 01, 2017
Ask commercial shrimpers why they fish for a living and the answers sound scripted:  to work on a deck instead of at a desk, to enjoy the freedom of being their own boss, and, for many, it’s a livelihood handed down from their dads and grandpas.  With no medical benefits or retirement plan and no guarantee of a good catch, shrimpers continue to chase the shrimp because it’s what they love to do.

To appreciate the shrimp on our tables is to have a better understanding of the boats that bring them in.  Considered second homes to shrimpers, they are divided into two general categories, inshore and offshore.

The shrimp boats working the shallow inshore bays and bayous are typically the smaller boats, and range in size from about 20 to 50 feet long.  These vessels are dubbed the “mosquito fleet” because they are so numerous. 

The large majority of inshore boats are outfitted with skimmer nets that hang on either side of the boat, connected to a sled that rides along the bottom.   Skimmer nets are essentially pushed along through the shallow waterways—‘skimming’ the shrimp from varying depths in the water. The butterfly net is a gear similar to a skimmer but lacks the sled, since this net is typically used in deeper passes relying on strong tidal movement to push shrimp into the net.  Still other inshore boats use the traditional otter trawl rig that is pulled behind the boat using a pair of “doors” that keep the net opened while moving forward. 

Shrimping can occur during all hours of the day and night; moon phase, tides and weather have much to do with shrimp movement and location.  An experienced shrimper takes all this into account when deciding where and when to deploy the nets.  Though inshore vessels are not, at present, required to be fitted with a turtle excluder device (TED), they must limit the amount of time nets are towed in the water to avoid any problems with sea turtle encounters.  Special bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) are often installed in nets to allow finfish bycatch a way to escape. 

Each shrimp boat represents a small business enterprise and may have been in the same family for several generations.  Even a smaller shrimp boat may have more than $100,000 invested, with constant repairs and maintenance required to keep vessels in working condition.   Shrimping trips may be limited to one day or night for the smaller boats, and four or five days for the larger inshore boats.  Boats must be loaded with enough fuel, ice and supplies for the trip, though some shrimpers have recently opted to install mechanical chilled water systems as a way to store shrimp and cut expenses for ice.  Each trip is a gamble with hopes that shrimp catches will allow for a profit. 

The inland fishermen operate during seasons regulated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF); the spring season runs from mid-May through early July, bringing in mostly brown shrimp from saltier estuaries, and picks up again mid-August into December for the more profitable white shrimp.

In offshore shrimping, everything is bigger—the season (year-round), the boats (steel-hulled vessels powered by larger diesel-fueled engines), and most certainly the expenses   These boats are typically 70 to 80 feet in length with some 160 feet and longer, and their size and onboard freezers allow them to fish for weeks at a time.  Offshore boats are outfitted with galley, bunks, bathroom and everything needed to be at sea for extended periods. The captain oversees up to four to five deck hands who are most often family members because, like inshore fishing, these large boats are family ventures.

Offshore vessels are most often rigged with four otter trawls; these big nets scoop up shrimp while gliding along the bottom.  Their fishing area includes the entire Gulf of Mexico, shrimping in both state and federal waters (with special permit), and returning to land their catch in Louisiana.  Trawlers with a mechanical assist, in federal waters are equipped with both TEDs and BRDs by law to reduce or eliminate incidental catch.

Chad and Angela Portier are long-time shrimpers from Chauvin, LA who both come from shrimping families.  They are both entrenched in the business—Chad has been shrimping since he was 15 years old, and Angela was recently appointed as a Louisiana representative for the Southern Shrimp Alliance.  They currently own a 28-foot inshore skiff and four offshore trawlers ranging from 69 to 78 feet long, with a sixth one on the way when Chad finishes building the 80-footer he’s been working on.

Angela says they fish nearly 24/7, with boats leaving and returning at different times of the day.  Like many owners of larger boats, they’ve invested in refrigeration systems, one of the main advantages that offshore trawlers have over inshore vessels, allowing them to stay in the Gulf as long as their fuel and supplies last and until their holds are filled – usually 15 to 20 days. 

These systems include the brine freezer vats and holding freezers required for “individual quick frozen” (IQF) shrimp.  During this process, 50 to 70 pound bags of shrimp are immersed into super chilled brine (-5 degrees Farenheit) where they freeze in just minutes.  Frozen shrimp are then stored in the holding freezer for remainder of the trip.  A good day’s catch can be as much as 2,000 pounds of shrimp or more.   Angela estimates that approximately 75 percent of the offshore boats have brine freezer systems.  Installing one is a significant investment for offshore shrimpers, costing up to $60,000.

Louisiana Sea Grant marine extension agent Thu Bui says the shrimping industry saw even more complex freezer technology around the year 2000 with the building of larger boats ( >85 feet) by Vietnamese shrimpers  located in Intracoastal City.  Because of their larger size and freezer capacity, these boats can be offshore as long as four to five weeks.

While offshore shrimping offers the opportunity for a more steady flow of income, it is also a more expensive investment in diesel, nets, constant maintenance and equipment; and this is on top of the actual cost of the boat, which is reported to cost up to $1 million.  

Whether inshore or offshore, shrimp fishermen will tell you it takes capital investment to get into the business and stay in it for the long haul.  “It’s blood, sweat and tear money,” says Portier.

It’s been extremely difficult for shrimpers to make a living, with the last good season reported in 2014.  Shrimpers continue to face challenges of ever-changing environmental conditions, like the flooding in August 2016, and the growing competition from imported shrimp that bring prices down at the dock.

To help revitalize the shrimp industry, Louisiana Sea Grant in partnership with the Port of Delcambre, developed an online direct sales program called DelcambreDirectSeafood.com shortly after the BP Oil Spill in 2010.  The website allows participating fishermen, from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, to post their latest catch and how and where customers can buy direct.  Customers then call the shrimper for prices and to place orders. 

It’s a win-win situation for everyone—consumers can buy the freshest product right off the boats, and fishermen get a far better price than if they sold wholesale.  Lifetime shrimpers like Rene Gregoire say the Delcambre Direct program has really boosted their business.

The tremendous success of Delcambre Direct Seafood led to the establishment of other regional programs, including Cameron Direct Seafood, LaTer (Lafourche-Terrebonne) Direct Seafood, SouthShore Direct Seafood, and the parent initiative Louisiana Direct Seafood.

While certainly not a glamorous livelihood, shrimping has pulled generations of fishermen into its tempting net since before Louisiana was proclaimed a state.  It is a tradition that has endured because of the people passionate to keep it alive.

Angela and Chad Portier remain encouraged for the future of shrimping when they still see younger men becoming inshore shrimpers.   “It’s our culture and our heritage; it’s families working together to make a living,” says Angela.

LDWF Soliciting Red Snapper Public Comment

SouthShore Administrator - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

As the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries continue to work towards a resolution regarding the management of red snapper, the LWFC invited representatives from the Louisiana commercial, charter and private sectors to their monthly meeting to provide input. Two representatives from each sector expressed their respective group’s concerns and comments on the topic.

The department urges Louisiana red snapper fishermen to voice their opinions and will continue to accept public comments on red snapper management via their website and email. Individuals interested in submitting a comment can visit the department’s homepage and navigate to the 'red snapper management' button, click here or email redsnapper@wlf.la.gov.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive email alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

Boating Education Lagniappe Day

SouthShore Administrator - Saturday, April 01, 2017
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be hosting the seventh annual "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" on April 22 at nine different locations across the state.

During Boating Education Lagniappe Day, LDWF will provide instructors for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course, NASBLA boating education certification, food and drinks, giveaways and door prizes all free of charge to the public.

LDWF urges the public to register quickly as most places have limited spaces available and registration is on a first come first serve basis.  To register please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses and follow the links to register for one of the nine April 22 classes.

Anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.

The course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements.  The course also covers many navigation rules and charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft and more.  Completion of the course will result in the student being issued a vessel operators certification card.

Below is the list of class locations:

Webster Parish
LDWF Region 1 Office
9961 Hwy. 80
Minden, LA 71055
Sponsors include the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association (LWAA), Coca-Cola of Minden, McDonald’s, Burger King, Sonic, Raising Cane’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Ouachita Parish
Academy Sports and Outdoors
111 Constitution Dr.
West Monroe, LA 71292
Sponsors include Academy Sports and Outdoors and Johnny’s Pizza House.

Rapides Parish
Academy Sports and Outdoors
3205 S MacArthur Dr.
Alexandria, LA 71301
Sponsors include Academy Sports and Outdoors

St. Martin Parish
1015 Amy St (next to the Henderson town hall)
Henderson, LA 70517
Sponsors include LWAA

Beauregard Parish
First Baptist Church of Deridder
2030 US-171
DeRidder, LA 70634
Sponsors include Beauregard Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited

Lafourche Parish
Galliano Fire Station District
3 1762 West Main St
Galliano, LA 70354
Sponsors include Renovation Hardware in Cut Off

Tangipahoa Parish
Manchac Fire Department
30221 US-51
Akers, LA 70421
Sponsors include Reno Seafood and Manchac Boat Club

Ascension Parish
Bass Pro Shop of Denham Springs
175 Bass Pro Blvd
Denham Springs, LA 70726
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be teaching this class.
Sponsors include Cabela’s of Gonzales.

St. Tammany Parish
St. Tammany Parish Library Madisonville Branch
1123 Main St
Madisonville, LA 70447
Sponsors include LWAA and Raising Canes.

Cracking Louisiana’s Crab Fishery Dilemma

SouthShore Administrator - Thursday, February 23, 2017

This past summer, in a popular seafood restaurant in Abbeville, LA, the construction sound of wooden mallets pounding the claws of boiled crabs is interrupted at one table as the conversation turns to the other hit taken by the blue-trimmed crustaceans. 

In a state with the largest blue crab fishery in the country, it was surprising news to many fishermen who heard, in July 2016, that commercial crab fishing would be closed for 30 days a year over the next three years, beginning this February, because of an overharvest of the fishery.

Fact is, Louisiana’s crab industry has seen a gradual decline in the crab population, arguably since 2000, with the most concerning levels reached last year. According to the 2016 Blue Crab Stock Assessment, by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the blue crab population was estimated at 14.3 million pounds in 2015. The benchmark for “overfished” conditions is when the population falls below 17.1 million pounds.  

LDWF Program Manager for Marine Fisheries Jeff Marx says that with this kind of decrease in blue crab numbers, the Department had to take action. The 30-day closure of trap fishery will begin the third Monday in February, historically a down time in the season, so the interruption in fishing is minimal. Marine experts say that time will give mature female crabs time to spawn and immature female crabs time to grow.

“You’ll see a better product,” says Marx. “In late February, early March, there’s what is called a ‘skinny’ crab and with the closure, those crabs will have a chance to grow and get a better quality.” 

Some fishermen and crab processors aren’t so sure; though they will tell you that 2016 has been a slow crab season. Frank Randol, crab processor and owner of Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette, LA, said his business was down in the fall of 2016, noting the percentage of yielded jumbo lump crab meat was at 11 percent, when it’s usually at 15 percent.

Randol, who’s been a crab processor since 1971, says he thinks there’s more to sustainability than a temporary closure. “We need to manage the resource; the closures aren’t as important as the management. There’s an imbalance of fisheries, where, for instance, red drum and other predator fish have been feasting on crabs for years. Harvesting the fish that are eating the crabs is an important step in saving the crab population.”

On the flip side, Trudy Luke, co-owner of Luke’s Seafood in Dulac, LA and member of a long-running crab fishing family, agrees that a proactive approach to the problem must be taken. Luke is a member of the Blue Crab Task Force along with other representatives from the crab industry who worry that if action is not taken now to sustain the population, then harsher restrictions might be imposed that would be even worse for fishermen, possibly jeopardizing the state’s year-round crab season.

No doubt, a low crab population has had an additional economic impact on fishermen, who are having to fish with more traps, putting out an average of 500-600 as compared to 300 traps a few years ago.  

Because the LDWF has kept a watchful eye on the state’s blue crab population for years, the Department earned a seal of sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2012, the first and only crab fishery in the world to earn this designation. While the “seal of sustainability” opened doors to large retailers like Whole Foods and other national chains, it also required some environmental stipulations.

The MSC mandates that benchmarks be met for five years in monitoring the crab fishery population, particularly how to maintain or increase crab production without hurting the ecosystem and what to do if an overharvest is reached.

Bottom line: There no easy solutions to addressing the issue of overfishing, especially since one or more of the root causes is outside human control. 

Associate Professor of Fisheries for LSU Ag Center and Fisheries Specialist for Sea Grant Julie Lively says the decrease in the crab fishery is not isolated to Louisiana; the crab population is down from the east coast to Texas, a phenomena governed much by nature. “Crab biology is driven by temperature and salinity; if salinity is low, predator fish don’t come in as close. Also, more wet years will help populate crabs,” she says.

Adding to that, Marx says that lack of severe freezes keeps predator fish thriving. Tropical storms blow in crabs from offshore that are normally unavailable. “We can’t control nature, but we can control fisheries.”

“Regardless of the underlying cause, we have reached the harvest limit and the state is managing the fishery so it can remain sustainable in the future for the fishermen of Louisiana,” says Lively.

According to Marx, there has never been a statewide seasonal crab closure, only small regional and area closures to pick up abandoned crab traps. Each year since 2004, LDWF has removed and disposed of traps snagged by boat motors or disengaged in storms- over 25,000 to date. The removal of these crab traps is especially important to crab harvesting efforts. 

Crab trap pickups will continue for 16 days on the eastern and western portion of the state during the 30-day crab closure.  

Experts remain optimistic that this management solution will see results. Unlike other areas of the country, it takes a blue point crab just over one year to reach maturity- as compared to two years in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.  

“Hopefully, it’ll build the population to the point where fishermen won’t have to put out as many traps,” says Marx.

Lively says it might not take long for populations to rebound. Amazingly, a female crab can lay as many as 750,000 to eight million eggs in her lifetime! Hearing that, one veteran crabber attending an educational workshop last fall in Bourg, LA said with a smirk, “Well then, close the bedroom door and let the crabs do their thing.”

New Crab Regulations for 2017

SouthShore Administrator - Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reminds crab fishermen of three new blue crab fishing regulations to take effect this year. Two changes were be implemented January 1 and will stay in effect through 2019. An additional regulation regarding escape rings will go into effect on November 15, 2017.

A summary of regulation changes is as follows:

Regulation changes effective January 1, 2017, and to extend through 2019

1. Ban on the commercial harvest of immature female blue crabs
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. 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.

2. Seasonal closure of the commercial fishery and the use of crab traps
The commercial harvest of blue crabs and the use of all crab traps will be prohibited for a 30-day period beginning the third Monday in February. During this period, all crab traps must be removed from all state waters including the three-mile territorial seas. All remaining crab traps found during the closure will be presumed as actively fishing and considered illegal. During this closure period, LDWF will conduct derelict crab trap cleanups throughout the Louisiana coast.

Regulation change effective November 15, 2017

1. Changes to the number and size of escape rings required on crab traps
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 Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive recreational or commercial fishing email and text alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

NOAA Announces Recreational Red Snapper Season

SouthShore Administrator - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NOAA Fisheries has announced the recreational season for the harvest of red snapper in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will open at 12:01 a.m. June 1, 2016. The bag and possession limit is two fish per person at a 16-inch minimum total length.

Last year, NOAA Fisheries, through the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council), made the decision to split the recreational red snapper quota into two distinct components – private anglers and charter vessels and headboats (for-hire). Each component has its own quota allocations based upon NOAA’s recreational red snapper harvest estimates. Private anglers will have a 9-day federal season running through June 9th closing at 11:59 p.m., and charter vessels / headboats will have a 46-day federal season, closing July 16th at 11:59 p.m.

The “Louisiana-only” season

The season for the recreational harvest of red snapper in Louisiana state waters is currently open, will remain open during the federal season, and will continue to be open after the federal season closes. LDWF monitors real-time red snapper harvest during 2016 through the LA Creel program.

Recreational Offshore Landing Permit

The Department reminds anglers that a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit is required in order to posses certain species, including red snapper. Anglers may obtain or new the permit, free of charge at https://rolp.wlf.la.gov.

The permit is required for any angler possessing tuna, billfish, swordfish, amberjacks, groupers, snappers, hinds, wahoo, cobia and dolphin, except for anglers under 16 years of age or anglers fishing on a paid-for-hire trip where the captain holds a permit.

Anglers may renew their permits up to 30 days prior to expiration. A valid Louisiana fishing license number is required to obtain a permit. A confirmation number is allowed for a temporary (trip) license.

The Louisiana Gulfward Boundary

The fishermen of Louisiana have the benefit of Louisiana’s reef fish management to 9 nautical miles during the state red snapper season.

LDWF reminds charter fishermen with federal reef fish permits that they are only allowed to fish these new boundary waters when the federal recreational reef fish season is open. Federal reef fish permit regulations restrict the permit holder to the most restrictive season. Please also note that red drum are not considered reef fish; therefore, there is no change to regulations impacting this species.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive recreational or commercial fishing email and text alerts, signup at www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

Louisiana Shrimp Soon To Be Plentiful, Good Choice For Health

SouthShore Administrator - Thursday, May 12, 2016
The spring shrimp season is set to open May 23, which means America’s favorite seafood will soon be plentiful and easy to add to our weekly menu.  Local shrimpers are hopeful large volumes of Gulf shrimp caught in March will translate to a great brown shrimp season in May and June.

“Consumers should know that fresh, wild caught Louisiana shrimp will soon be readily available,” said Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter/Louisiana Sea Grant extension agent, and director of the Louisiana Direct Seafood program.  “Lucky for us, more and more evidence points to the importance of seafood in a healthy diet.”

According to seafoodhealthfacts.org, health experts recommend eating a variety of seafood at least twice a week.  Nutritional benefits of seafood include:

•    A good source of high quality protein, that is easier to digest
•    Fewer calories compared to other protein dense foods.
•    Low levels of total and saturated fat, with most kinds of fish and shellfish containing less than 5 percent total fat.
•    A main source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA) and docsahexaenoic acid (DHA)

These important fatty acids provide significant health benefits, like helping to build muscles and tissue and reducing the risk of heart disease in adults.  Just one 3 ounce serving of shrimp contains over 293 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acid.

Though fresh, wild caught Louisiana shrimp is easy to find, and is a good choice for your health, it is important to remember that not all seafood is created equal.  Domestic shrimp, and other seafood, is a better—and often safer—choice than some imports.  

Reports of shrimp refused entry into the U.S., due to antibiotics found in samples, as well as investigations into slave labor used in shrimp processing plants overseas, have some consumers concerned.

 “Most people don’t realize that 94 percent of our shrimp is imported, mainly from countries such as India, Thailand and Indonesia,” said Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter/Louisiana Sea Grant extension agent, and director of the Louisiana Direct Seafood program.  “But there is no need to abandon your love of shrimp, as you can take steps to make sure you know where your seafood comes from.  Carefully reading labels, especially the back of the product, for country of origin is one way.  Buying direct from fishermen, or a trusted local retailer, is another.”

LouisianaDirectSeafood.com, an initiative administered by Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter, provides an online resource for consumers to connect with fishermen in four main coastal areas—Cameron, Delcambre, Lafourche-Terrebonne, and Southshore/New Orleans.   Each area has it’s own web site, where fishermen can post their most recent catch for sale, and how to contact them directly.  Facebook pages and e-newsletters for each region also serve to keep consumers in the know.

“There is a reason farm-to-table has become so popular,” said Hymel.  “People are looking to make a connection with their food, and with local producers.  Seafood fresh off the boat has nutritional benefits, as well as superior taste and texture.

“Though we’re talking up the opening of shrimp season, summer is a great time for all manner of fresh seafood, as crabs get fatter and many species of fish are running like red snapper, tuna, wahoo and king mackerel.  Even oysters are available and safe to eat thanks to time and temperature safety rules; plus a new method of off bottom oyster farming produces a delicious summer oyster.  How fortunate we are to have all this bounty at our fingertips.”

Catch Crabs, Earn Cash Rewards

SouthShore Administrator - Saturday, May 07, 2016

April 20, 2016

By Todd Masson

Crabbing in Louisiana's waters will not only provide you and your friends with a tasty meal, it could also put a little cash in your wallet. Nicholls State University is on a quest to learn more about the health and habits of the state's blue-crab population, and will be rewarding recreational and commercial crabbers who help in that endeavor.

Over the next two years, researchers at the school will tag and release as many as 15,000 female blue crabs in Louisiana waters and 30,000 Gulf-wide. The tags will appear on the backs of the crustaceans, and will be held in place by a wire that stretches from point to point.

Nicholls University tagged crabCrabbers who catch the tagged crabs and report the requested information will receive a check for $5 or $50, as well as information about where and when the crab was tagged.

Zachary Darnell, assistant professor at Nicholls' Department of Biological Sciences, said the project is the largest to his knowledge ever conducted in Louisiana waters.

"Blue crabs support a tremendously valuable fishery in Louisiana, but information on their movements and migration is lacking," he said. "We're mostly interested in how female crabs are moving through the estuaries and coastal waters of Louisiana -- when they're migrating, why they're migrating.

"We know that after the females mature and mate, they tend to stick in one area to feed and build up their energy stores, and then once they get ready to produce an egg mass, they start migrating down toward the coast, toward higher-salinity water, where they spawn. The eggs and larvae need that higher salinity."

Darnell said crabs migrate not by crawling or swimming, but by rising up in the water column and riding the falling tides. When the water turns around and begins to rise, the crabs simply move to the bottom and hold on until the tide starts to fall again.

"That saves them a lot of energy," he said.

In Louisiana, that migration seems to be a protracted affair, Darnell said.

"We know that up in the Chesapeake Bay, the vast majority of all females tend to migrate in the fall, fairly tightly clustered around the same time, but down here, it's probably much more spread out," he said.

10 fascinating blue crab facts

Here are some things you may not know about Louisiana's favorite crustacean.

The tags, Darnell said, should stay on the crabs throughout their lives.

"A lot of people ask, 'What about when they molt? Won't you lose the tags?' But once the females reach maturity, they really don't molt again after that," he said.

Researchers began tagging a couple of weeks ago, and to date, have tagged about 400 crabs, Darnell said. That number will climb rapidly throughout the spring and summer, he said.


Todd Masson can be reached at tmasson@nola.com or 504.232.3054. 



Dominique Seibert, Area Fisheries Agent
Plaquemines & St. Bernard Parishes
LSU SeaGrant/LSU AgCenter
Email: dseibert@agcenter.lsu.edu
Phone: (504) 458-2397
479 E. Edward Hebert Blvd., Suite 201
Belle Chasse, LA 70037 
Albert ("Rusty") Gaude', Area Fishery Agent
Pontchartrain South Region
LSU SeaGrant/LSU AgCenter
Email: agaude@agcenter.lsu.edu
Office: (504) 736-6519
PRM 307 Yenni Bldg.
1221 Elmwood Park Blvd.
Jefferson, Louisiana 70123 
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