Louisiana Fall Shrimp Season

Kevin Savoie - 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.

The Boats That Chase The Shrimp

Kevin Savoie - 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.

First Annual Caddo Lake Fishing Rodeo

Kevin Savoie - Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The Louisiana Chapter of the Greater Caddo Lake Association (GCLA) in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold the first annual Caddo Lake Fishing Rodeo. The rodeo will launch on Saturday, May 6 concurrent with the kickoff of the annual Gusher Days events in Oil City and will conclude on Labor Day, Monday, September 4.
 
The department will collect, tag and release 50 fish of various species from the lake. Anglers who land a tagged fish can redeem the tag for prizes including gift certificates, tackle packages and up to $1,000 in cash. The Louisiana GCLA, Caddo Outdoors Bait and Tackle, Caddo Lake Drift In and Southern Smoke BBQ provide rodeo prizes. 
 
Bonus prizes will be awarded to anyone who catches a tagged fish who is an active member of the Louisiana GCLA, prior to the beginning of the event. For a complete list of prizes and rules, please visit one of the sponsor locations or go to the Louisiana Greater Caddo Lake Association’s Facebook page.
 
Caddo Lake is a natural jewel located on the Louisiana and Texas borders. The lake is filled with beautiful cypress trees and is a nature lover’s dream. The lake boasts an outstanding fishery known for its abundant bream, crappie and catfish; but Caddo Lake is best known as a trophy bass lake. Highly regarded as an excellent bass fishery by local anglers for years, it was ranked the seventh best bass fishing lake in the southeastern U.S. by Bassmaster Magazine in 2016.

LDWF Soliciting Red Snapper Public Comment

Kevin Savoie - 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

Kevin Savoie - 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.

LA shrimp season opens, healthy seafood on menu

Kevin Savoie - Friday, May 13, 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 Marshrimp boatch 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

Kevin Savoie - Sunday, May 01, 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. 


Dates Set for Louisiana Shrimp and Oyster Seasons

Kevin Savoie - Thursday, August 14, 2014
Shrimp BoatThe Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has set the dates for Louisiana’s shrimp and oyster seasons. The dates were determined after input from LDWF biologists and the public.

The Louisiana shrimp season will open one-half hour before sunrise on Monday, August 18 for inside waters from the western shore of the Atchafalaya River to the Louisiana border with Texas. State inside waters east of the Atchafalaya River will open for shrimping Monday, August 18 at 6 p.m.

Some state waters are still closed, however, as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. More information including maps showing the openings and closings can be found here.

Oyster season will begin one-half hour before sunrise on Wednesday, September 3, in Little Lake, Barataria Bay, Deep Lake, Lake Tambour, and Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds. Between September 3 and October 12, harvesting oysters for market sales is NOT allowed on any public oyster area and only seed oysters for bedding purposes may be harvested.

On Monday, October 20, all other public oyster seed grounds Lake Borgne, Bay Junop, Lake Mechant, the Lake Machias/Fortuna sacking-only area, the Bay Long sacking-only area, and a sacking-only area in Mississippi Sound will be open for harvesting one-half hour before sunrise. The west cove portion of the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area will open one-half hour before sunrise on Monday, October 27.

There are a number of provisions as well as some closures regarding oyster season. For the full release from LDWF, click here.

Cameron Fish Fest

Kevin Savoie - Thursday, July 31, 2014
This annual festival is a fun-filled three-day event featuring fishing, food, music and pageants. Musical acts include Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition, Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie, and Waters Edge.

The Cameron Fish Festival is held August 1 - 3, at the Cameron Jetty Pavilion (799 Davis Road). Don't miss the fireworks Saturday night!
Cameron Fish Fest Logo

LDWF Announces Spring Shrimp Season Opening

Kevin Savoie - Thursday, May 01, 2014

The dates for the 2014 Louisiana spring shrimp season were announced at today’s meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and 
Fisheries Commission. The spring shrimp season was set based on information provided by Louisiana Department of 
Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and on public comments.

The opening dates for the 2014 Louisiana shrimp season are as follows:

1. That portion of state inside waters from the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River westward 
to the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal, and that portion of state outside waters extending 3 
nautical miles seaward from the shoreline from the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island as 
delineated by the Channel red buoy line westward to the to the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal 
at -92 degrees 18 minutes 33 seconds west longitude to open at 6 a.m. May 26

2. That portion of state inside waters from the Mississippi/Louisiana state line westward to the eastern shore 
of South Pass of the Mississippi River to open at 6 a.m. June 2. However, the open waters of Breton and 
Chandeleur Sounds as described by the double-rig line are currently open to shrimping.

3. That portion of state inside waters from the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal westward to the 
Louisiana/Texas state line to open at 6 a.m. June 2.

In addition to the open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds, all state outside waters are currently open 
to shrimping except for outside waters extending 3 nautical miles seaward from the shoreline from the 
Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island westward to the to the western shore of Freshwater Bayou 
Canal.

The Commission granted authority to the Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to delay or 
advance 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. The Secretary is further granted the authority 
to open any area, or re-open any previously closed area, and to open and close special shrimp seasons in any 
portion of state waters.

For more information, click here.

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CONTACT DETAILS

Cameron Direct Seafood
Kevin A. Savoie, Area Agent
7101 Gulf Hwy, Lake Charles, LA 70607
Email: ksavoie@agcenter.lsu.edu
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