๐Ÿฆ Mississippi Shrimping: Season, Regulations & Gear

Whether you are planning to go fishing for shrimps in Mississippi or start your little shrimp business, it is important to know how the state regulates the process so that you can benefit from the laid-out rules. In this article, we will take you through all the necessary details of shrimping in Mississippi so that your shrimping journey may go smoothly.

How Does Mississippi Regulate Shrimping?

Mississippi lies in the southern part of the United States. Under the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources’ umbrella, the Shrimp and Crab Bureau manages the fisheries focusing on crabs and shrimps, both commercially and recreationally. Various regional as well as Federal agencies, work together to control fishing activities. Federal agencies include NMFS, GSMFC, and the U.S. Geological Survey. State agencies include the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, and the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Service, along with many others. This cooperation helps in the efficient execution of regulatory measures in various states.

The Shrimp and Crab Bureau is responsible for but not limited to:

  • The setting of fishing seasons
  • Regulating fishing gear
  • Assessing and monitoring shrimp and crab fisheries
  • Issuing scientific collection permits
  • Evaluating and reporting live-bait shrimp industry

The Bureau is responsible for:

  • Working on the Real-time Hydrological monitoring program
  • Cooperating with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services for grants
  • Carrying out the Inter-jurisdictional Fisheries Monitoring Program
  • Working on the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program

Recreational License

To receive your fishing license online, you would need the following material:

  • Driving license/social security code
  • Credit/debit card

In case you are under 16 years of age or disabled, you will not require a recreational license for fishing as a hobby. If you are over 65 years, you can purchase a lifetime license.

Commercial Boat License

To register as a commercial fisher, you would need:

  • Driver’s license/identification card (All captains using the boat should provide this document)
  • Boat registration document

All commercial boat licenses expire on the 30th of April each year.

Legal Considerations for License Holders

It is illegal to:

  • Sell any fish under the recreational license
  • Do recreational shrimp trawling in open areas in the open season
  • Remove the heads of the shrimp on-site if you are using brill or cast nets.
  • Trawl within half-mile of the mainland unless by a licensed live bait catch boat
  • To use a saltbox in Mississippi waters where salt solution exceeds 100 parts per thousand in salinity
  • Drag or pull a trawl/try-net underwater having a bag tied or untied within any waters closed to shrimping.

Fishing Gear Permitted

You can only use a small mesh beach seines for recreational shrimp fishing with a length of under 100 feet with a maximum 1/4-inch-square mesh. Trawling license holders can use a single net not larger than 16 feet along the headrope. The state allows cast or brill nets not greater than 12-feet radius to catch up to 50 pounds of shrimp (heads on) per day, per person  

Commercial boat license holders can use equipment like trawls, skimmer nets, butterfly nets, beach seines, cast nets, and push trawls during the shrimping season. In comparison, you can only use a single net in the North to the barrier island within the territory of Mississippi Sound. The net should not exceed 50 feet long along the upper-line and the length of 60 feet along the ground-line. While using two nets, each should not be longer than 32 feet on the ground-line and 25 feet on the upper-line.

If you use the latest trawl, it must not be longer than 12 feet along the upper-line and 15 feet along the ground-line. The boards should not be longer than 30 inches. Trawl doors must not be larger than 8 feet by 43 inches in size. Using wing nets or skimmer trawls with a maximum size exceeding 25 feet on the upper-line and 32 feet on the ground-line is illegal. Every recreational and commercial boat that consists of a retrieval system with a mechanical assistance feature would need a Turtle Excluder Device (TED).

Shrimping Season in Mississippi

The shrimping season begins when the authorities feel that the shrimp has reached its standard size. The legal size is 68 counts to the pound. Catching the shrimps smaller than 68 counts to the pound is illegal unless you have a live-bait dealer license. With this license, you can catch shrimps with a minimum of 100 counts to the pound. For the year 2020-21, the shrimping season was from May-28-2020 to January-1-2021 and in some areas till May-1-2021. It is legal for the licensed live-bait dealers to catch shrimps during the entire year but only in the assigned regions.

Fishing Locations in Mississippi

We see that commercial and recreational shrimping is common on a seasonal basis near the Intracoastal Waterway. Close to the Intracoastal Waterway, some areas are for live-bait license holders only. The COLREGS Demarcation line experiences annual shrimping for commercial and recreational purposes, while the state doesn’t allow shrimping in some areas near this region.

Final Words

Following the above-given details, you can go shrimping with a license and knowledge of fishing. Natural disasters, overwork in harsh conditions, and fatal accidents with fishing equipment play a crucial role in the shrimping industry’s downfall. But regulatory bodies are working towards progress. Their efforts show that the industry is promising. And if you are a commercial shrimper, considering the odds of your work, the profit can be worth the shot. Like every industry, there are highs and lows here, but it is a matter of time before the industry reaches its peak or completely collapses.