At last week’s meeting the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a notice of intent to amend the Special Bait Dealer Permit rule. Amendments to the current rule would allow businesses that hold a “Special Live Bait Dealer Permit” added opportunities to meet the growing demand for live bait shrimp and live croaker from recreational saltwater anglers.
These changes would allow qualified businesses to apply for permits and conduct bait fishing operations year-round and at night provided permitted vessels are equipped with a working vessel monitoring system (VMS). Other changes include the following:
- Allows use of skimmer net frames up to the legal maximum size (16’ horizontally; 12’ vertically and 20’ diagonally)
- Allows transfer of live bait from one vessel to another under the following provisions:
- Both vessels must be permitted under the same wholesale/retail seafood dealer
- Captain of the harvesting vessel must possess a signed trip ticket for the harvested bait
- Bait is transported directly to the wholesale/retails seafood dealer under which both vessels are operating
- Upon receiving the harvested bait, the dealer shall complete the trip ticket
- Persons convicted of a Class Three or greater fisheries violation within the previous three years prior to the date of application shall not qualify to obtain a permit or be onboard any vessel engaged in permitted activities
- Prohibits sale of live shrimp or crabs directly from a permitted vessel to anyone other than the wholesale/retail seafood dealer listed on the permit during closed shrimp season
Current regulations limit special bait dealer permittees to the harvest and sale of live shrimp and live croaker beginning May 1 of each year and between the spring and fall inshore shrimp seasons. No special permits are required to harvest and sell live bait during open shrimp season.
The proposed rule is in response to increased public demand for live bait, which often exceeds available bait dealer supplies.
“These proposed changes should enhance live bait availabilities by providing permitted dealers greater bait harvesting opportunities,” said Randy Pausina, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Secretary of Fisheries. “The rule will also boost fishing success for their long-standing favorite and Louisiana’s most targeted recreational saltwater species, speckled trout.”
Last amended in 2010, the Special Bait Dealer Permit Rule is intended solely for the benefit of the recreational fishing public which desires to use live shrimp and live croaker as bait during closed shrimp season between the spring and fall inshore shrimp seasons. Its purpose is to allow the uninterrupted operation of those commercial establishments that sell live bait to the fishing public during the spring and fall inshore shrimp seasons.
The special bait dealer permit is not intended for the direct use of recreational fishermen, charter boats, commercial fishermen who sell dead bait or for any other entity which may wish to catch bait for their own use during closed shrimp season.
Image courtesy Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries