Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Sets the 2022-2023 Oyster Season

Published 7:00 am Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the 2022-2023 oyster season based on the annual oyster stock assessment provided by  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and comments received from members of the public, including the oyster industry.

The following dates were set for the upcoming oyster season:

  • The Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area will open solely for sacking of market size oysters: the West Cove shall open one-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, October 15, 2022, and East Cove shall open one-half hour before sunrise on Sunday, January 1, 2023.
  • The Hackberry Bay, Lake Mechant and Bay Junop Public Oyster Seed Reservation and Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche Bay/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds will open for bedding purposes only one half-hour before sunrise on Monday, October 17, 2022, and will close one half-hour after sunset that same day.
  • The Hackberry Bay, Lake Mechant, Bay Gardene and Bay Junop Public Oyster Seed Reservation, Vermilion/East, West Cote Blanche Bay/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds, including all areas east of Mississippi River, Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Shellfish Harvest Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 will open for sacking of market size oysters only one half-hour before sunrise on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 and shall close at one-half hour after sunset on April 1, 2023 (or if biological data indicates that harvest levels have been met).

The Louisiana Department of Health may periodically close areas for public health concerns. Check LDH’s website or call 800.256.2775 for more information. 

During the 2022-23 oyster season, the following provisions will be in effect:

  • Any vessel from which any person(s) takes or attempts to take oysters from the public oyster seed grounds and reservations described above shall be limited to a daily limit not to exceed 30 sacks of oysters per vessel, except for Calcasieu Lake. The daily limits for Calcasieu Lake shall not exceed 15 sacks of oysters per vessel per day in aggregate between West Cove and the East Side, with no more than 5 sacks coming from the East Side per day.  The possession limit shall be twice the daily limit.  A sack of oysters for the purposes of this Declaration of Emergency shall be defined as the size described in R.S. 56:440. If sacks smaller than the size described in R.S. 56:440 are used, the daily harvest and possession limit shall be based on the number of sacks used, not the size of the sack or other measures. The daily take and possession limit shall not apply to vessels harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes. The possession limit shall not apply to vessels operating under a valid Oyster Cargo Vessel Permit, and these vessels shall not harvest oysters.
  • All vessels harvesting on the open public oyster seed grounds on Monday, October 17, 2022 shall be harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes only and shall not have sacks or other containers typically used to hold oysters on board the harvest vessel, except for Calcasieu Lake.
  • A vessel is limited to either harvesting market oysters for direct sale (sacking) or harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes on any one day and is specifically prohibited from doing both.
  • If any person on a vessel takes or attempts to take oysters from the public oyster areas, seed grounds or reservations described above, all oysters contained on that vessel will be deemed to have been taken from said seed ground or reservation from the time harvest begins until all oysters are off-loaded dockside.
  • The harvest of seed oysters from a public oyster seed ground or reservation is for the purpose of moving the live oyster resource. The removal of more than 15 percent of non-living reef material in bedding loads is prohibited. All vessels must allow on-board inspection and sampling of seed oyster loads by LDWF biologists and/or agents.
  • All oysters harvested from public areas, seed grounds or reservations for the purpose of market must be uncontaminated, sealed, and not gaping.
  • All oysters harvested from public areas, seed grounds or reservations for the purpose of market sales must measure a minimum of 3 inches from hinge to bill.
  • Market oysters harvested from any public oyster area (including Calcasieu Lake), seed ground or reservation must be sacked, the number of sacks recorded in a log book, and each sack properly tagged prior to leaving said public oyster area, seed ground, or reservation, with the exception of bedding vessels.
  • All vessels located in public oyster areas, seed grounds or reservations during those times between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise must have all oyster scrapers unshackled.
  • The use of oyster scrapers is prohibited in Calcasieu Lake. Oyster harvesting shall be limited to using hand tongs on vessels harvesting oysters, or collected by hand. Oyster tongs shall be made as a grasping device consisting of two pieces joined by a pivot or hinged like scissors used for picking up objects.
  • Every vessel harvesting oysters from the Public Oyster Areas for market shall report harvest information to the LDWF before 9 pm each day fished. Vessels shall provide the following information: Captain’s name, oyster harvester number, boat number, the total number of sacks harvested that day, and the public oyster area fished. Call 1-800-442-2511 or oyster@wlf.la.gov to submit harvest reports. This reporting does not substitute for trip ticket reporting.

The following areas will remain closed for the entire 2022-23 oyster season:

  1. The Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservations Public Oyster Seed Ground as described in R.S. 56:434.
  2. The 2022 Drum Bay Cultch Plant with the following coordinates:

North Plant

29° 53′ 24.837″, -89° 17′ 08.500″

29° 53′ 50.990″, -89° 16′ 30.541″

29° 54′ 12.658″, -89° 16′ 43.889″

29° 53′ 55.360″, -89° 17′ 30.601″

South Plant

29° 52′ 32.400″, -89° 19′ 18.340″

29° 52′ 36.238″, -89° 18′ 40.818″

29° 53′ 07.579″, -89° 19′ 36.541″

29° 53′ 18.409″, -89° 19′ 07.703″

  1. Lake Tambour, Lake Chien, Lake Felicity, Deep Lake and Barataria Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds as described in LAC 76:VII:517.
  2. The Little Lake Public Oyster Seed Grounds as described in LAC 76:VII.521.
  3. Oyster harvest on the Sabine Lake Public Oyster Area is prohibited as described in R.S. 56:435.1.
  4. The Calcasieu Lake artificial reef with the following coordinates:

29° 53’ 16.5” N, 93o 16’ 56.9” W

29° 53’ 16.4” N, 93o 16’ 34.8” W

29° 52’ 57.2” N, 93o 16’ 34.7” W

29° 52’ 57.2” N, 93o 16’ 56.8” W

 

The Secretary of the Department was authorized by the Commission to set closure dates and adjust sack limits and/or sacking-only areas based on biological harvest data or if enforcement issues are encountered. The Secretary is also authorized to take emergency action to close, or reopen areas previously closed if the threat to the resource has ended and to open public areas if substantial oyster resources are located.

Public notice of any opening, delay or closing of a season will be provided at least 72 hours prior to such action, unless such closure is ordered by the Louisiana Department of Health for public concerns.

 

Public Oyster Area Season Opening (One-half hour before sunrise) Season Closing (one-half hour after sunset)
Open areas may periodically be closed by LDH for public health concerns.
East of MS River, North of MRGO (Sacking Only) Opens October 18, 2022
(Closes April 1, 2023)
 30 sacks/vessel/day
(take and possession) *
East of MS River, South of MRGO (Sacking Only) Opens October 18, 2022
(Closes April 1, 2023)
 30 sacks/vessel/day
(take and possession) *
Hackberry Bay, Lake Mechant and Bay Junop Public Oyster Seed Reservation, Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche Bay/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds – Bedding only Opens October 17, 2022
(One day only)
No more than 15% of non-living material allowed in bedding loads.
Hackberry Bay, Lake Mechant, Bay Gardene and Bay Junop Public Oyster Seed Reservation, Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche Bay/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds-  Sacking only  Opens October 18, 2022
(Closes April 1, 2023)
30 sacks/vessel/day*
Sister Lake, Lake Tambour, Lake Chien, Lake Felicity, Deep Lake, Barataria, Little Lake No Season No Season
Calcasieu Lake
(West Cove)
Opens October 15, 2022  15 sacks/vessel/day
(take and possession) **
Calcasieu Lake
(East side)
Opens January 1, 2023 5 sacks/vessel/day
(take and possession)**
* The possession limit shall be twice the daily limit.
**No more than 15 sacks of oysters per vessel per day for the entire Calcasieu Lake. No scrapers: Tong or hand only

For 2022-2023 oyster season maps, click here.

For more information, contact Carolina Bourque at cbourque@wlf.la.gov or 337-735-8726.