Mississippi Saltwater Fishing
COMMERCIAL METHODS OF TAKE
During open seasons and in open areas, saltwater shrimp may only be taken with shrimp trawls, butterfly nets, skimmer nets, push trawls, beach seines and cast nets. North of the barrier islands (COLREGS demarcation line), within the Mississippi Sound, shrimp may only be taken with a single net, no longer than 50 feet along the headrope and 60 feet along the footrope, or not more than two nets, each no longer than 25 feet on the headrope and 32 feet on the footrope. A test (or try) trawl no longer than 12 feet along the headrope and 15 feet along the footrope with boards no more than 30 inches in length is permitted. Trawl doors shall not exceed 8 feet by 43 inches.
Licensed shrimp trawlers may keep up to 25 pounds in total of White Trout, Croaker, Black Drum, Ground Mullet, Gafftopsail Catfish and Flounder and three dozen Blue Crabs for personal consumption. Non-resident licensed shrimp trawlers may only keep this allowance if their respective state has a reciprocal agreement with Mississippi.
It shall be unlawful to use skimmer trawls or wing nets with a maximum size greater than 25 feet on the headrope and 32 feet on the footrope.
All recreational and commercial shrimp vessels with a mechanical assisted retrieval system must have a Turtle Excluder Device (TED). Skimmer trawl vessels may use a 55-minute tow time instead of TEDs April 1 to October 31 and a 75-minute tow time from November 1 to March 31. Contact NOAA 228-762-4591 for more information on these federal requirements.
RECREATIONAL METHODS OF TAKE
A recreational shrimp license is required for shrimp harvest by trawl. Recreational shrimp harvest by cast net does not require a recreational fishing license, unless retaining finfish. Recreational shrimp trawling is only allowed in open areas during open seasons.
Recreationally harvested shrimp cannot be sold.
All crabs and finfish harvested by recreational fishermen may be kept for personal consumption, but MUST meet minimum size and creel limits.
Cast nets or brill (brail) nets not exceeding 12-feet maximum radius may be used to catch up to 50 pounds of shrimp (heads on) per person, per day for personal consumption only in the bays located within and surrounding the cities of Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Gautier and Pascagoula.
Persons catching shrimp with cast nets or brill nets shall not remove the heads of the shrimp on site.
Small mesh beach seines under 100 feet in length and with a maximum 1/4-inch-square mesh size are permitted.
Holders of a recreational shrimp trawling license are limited to the use of a single net measuring no larger than 16 feet along the headrope.
Trawling is not generally permitted in any area within 1/2 mile of the mainland, except by duly licensed live-bait catch boats. Please contact the MDMR for more details on closed areas.
Trawling is prohibited north of the Intracoastal Waterway (tugboat channel) beginning Jan. 1 of each year. The area south of the Intracoastal Waterway (tugboat channel and west of the Gulfport ship channel) will be closed to trawling after April 30 of each year and prior to the opening of shrimp season (special extensions may be made by the Commission on Marine Resources pending sampling results).
It shall be unlawful to recreationally or commercially trawl within the boundaries of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which is a one-mile perimeter around Ship, Horn and Petit Bois islands.
Shrimp season is officially opened by public notice at such time that the MDMR’s Office of Marine Fisheries has determined that the shrimp have reached legal size. Miss Code Ann. 49-15-64.1.
Shrimp smaller in size than 68 count to the pound are not to be taken in Mississippi waters, except by licensed live-bait boats. Miss Code Ann. 49-15-64.3.
It is illegal for anyone to drag or pull a trawl or try net under the water with the bag tied or untied within any waters that are closed to shrimping. Title 22, Part 2, Ch. 5 (106).
It is illegal to use a saltbox in Mississippi waters in which the salt solution exceeds 100 parts per thousand salinity (10).
Commercial shrimpers are permitted to sell their legally caught shrimp live with a “Fresh Product” permit.
For the latest updates on the Mississippi shrimp fishery, call the toll-free 24-hour
Shrimp Information Hotline at 1-866-We Trawl (866-938-7295).
LICENSED LIVE-BAIT SHRIMPING
The live-bait fishery is viewed as a service to recreational fishermen and to the tourist industry of Mississippi. The special privileges granted and the regulations imposed are intended to ensure that this service may be performed with minimal impact on shrimp and fish populations.
Licensed live-bait catcher boats are prohibited from trawling north of the CSX Railroad bridge in the three coastal counties of Mississippi.
Written application for live-bait licenses must be made to the Office of Marine Fisheries.
Shrimp of 100 count to the pound are the minimum legal size for licensed live-bait dealers. Live-bait dealers must mark their boats and transport vehicles with the designation “LIVE BAIT” in letters at least 6 inches high on both the port and starboard sides of the vessel and at least 4 inches high on the transport vehicle. The name of the bait camp must be similarly displayed on the boat and transport vehicle.
Licensed live-bait boats must be equipped to adequately maintain live shrimp on board. Such boats also are restricted to tows of 25 minutes or less and are not permitted to have on board in excess of 30 pounds of dead shrimp at any time.
Live-bait trawling is permitted only during the hours beginning 30 minutes before sunrise and ending at sunset, then only using a trawl no longer than 16 feet on the headrope and 22 feet on the footrope, except areas west of Bayou Caddy, where trawls may be 25 feet on the headrope and 32 feet on the footrope. Special areas may be opened to live-bait trawling and additional restrictions imposed.
Fish caught coincidental to a live-bait operation may be retained and sold for chum. Fish retained must be of legal commercial size. However, if crabs are to be kept, the dealer is required to hold a valid Mississippi commercial crab license.
Licensed live-bait camps must meet the following special requirements:
- Each camp must have adequate holding and aerating systems, which must be cleaned of dead shrimp at least every 12 hours.
- No bulk sales of dead shrimp are permitted. Dead shrimp may be sold only with the heads attached and in containers holding no more than 16 ounces. No more than five 16-ounce containers may be sold to an individual in one day.
- Someone must be readily available to serve customers during appropriate hours, and each live-bait dealer application must include these hours, at least eight hours per 24-hour period.
- Location of the camp must be accessible to the general public by public road or waters located within the three coastal counties.
Purchasing dead shrimp in bulk quantities from a live-bait dealer is illegal and punishable by a $5,000 fine for the first offense. Additional information and regulations governing the licensed live-bait fishery are available from the MDMR.