Mississippi Saltwater Fishing
Methods of Take
Traditional methods of taking crabs:
- Traps (pots)
- Drop net
- Dip net
It shall be unlawful to have any sponge crabs (egg-bearing crabs) at any time of year. All sponge crabs shall immediately be returned to the water alive.
It is illegal to remove crabs from traps or pots for which one is not specifically licensed. It is illegal to remove crab traps from the water between the hours of 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.
All crabs, except for peeler crabs (those that are about to shed) and soft-shell crabs (those that have recently shed), must be 5 inches or larger as measured from the tip of one lateral spine across the back of the shell to the tip of the opposite lateral spine. Peeler crabs, if under 5 inches, must be in a separate container (32’’x19’’x12’’) during commercial harvest activities.
All crab trap floats must be visibly marked with corresponding commercial or recreational crab license number. In addition, all crab traps fished from boats must also be marked with the vessel’s registration number. Licensed commercial crab fishermen may register a buoy color code instead with Marine Patrol. A crab trap float line must be of non-floating or weighted material and easily cut with a knife. All floats must measure at least 6 inches in diameter. It is illegal to place any crab trap so that the trap, the trap line or float is in any navigable waterway in a manner that interferes with normal boat traffic.
All crab traps must be permanently marked for ownership by a corrosion-resistant metal or plastic tag attached to the trap. The tag must be supplied by the fisherman and must be legibly stamped with license holder’s full name.
All crab traps must also be equipped with no less than two escape rings positioned on the vertical outside walls of the trap, with at least one ring located in each chamber. Escape rings must have a minimum of 2 and 3/8 inches inside diameter. From April 1 to June 30 and from September 1 to October 31, escape rings may be obstructed for the purpose of retaining peeler or buster crabs.
To protect overwintering crabs, it is illegal to fish for crabs by any means between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year in the winter crab sanctuary west of Cat Island (see legal description in CMR Title 22 Part 4).
Contact the MDMR at 228-374-5000 for more information or see map at dmr.ms.gov/marine-fisheries/shrimp-a-crab.
Commercial crabbing is prohibited north of the CSX railroad bridge in the three coastal counties of Mississippi. Crabs may be taken by trawl, but the trawl must not exceed the maximum allowable dimension specified under “Methods of Take” for shrimp (see Shrimp) and must comply with all other regulations governing the use of a trawl. Crabs incidentally caught in trawls must be immediately returned to the water unless the boat operator holds a valid Mississippi commercial crab license. Licensed shrimp trawlers and licensed oyster fishermen may keep up to three dozen blue crabs for personal consumption.
A recreational crab license ($5) is required to catch crabs in traps for personal use (not for sale). The taking of crabs with drop nets is permitted without a license.
It shall be unlawful for any person recreationally fishing for crabs for personal use or consumption, by means of crab traps or crab pots, to use in excess of six such traps or pots per household. Traps or pots must be marked with the owner’s name, and if traps or pots are being fished from a vessel, the floats must be marked with the vessel’s registration number and recreational crab license number. Recreational crab traps are not allowed north of Interstate 10.
Diamondback Terrapins, a type of aquatic turtle, occasionally become caught in crab traps. If you catch one, please call the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve at 228-475-7047. Your help is greatly appreciated in the study and protection of this species of concern. Free Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) for crab traps are available from the MDMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau. Call 228-374-5000 for more information.