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Crab and Ghost Shrimp Regulations & Restrictions

NOTE: It is unlawful to place, fish or leave a crab trap or crab trap component in the coastal waters of the state from February 21 - March 2, 2014.

  • Crabs may be taken for personal use (bait or food.) Crabs taken with recreational license for personal use may not be sold.
  • There are no public salt waters, seasons or times closed to the taking and retaining of crabs and ghost shrimp, except as provided in this guide.
  • It is lawful to take, attempt to take or possess crabs (more information on crabs) and ghost shrimp by means, in numbers and of sizes only.
  • A person taking or attempting to take crabs or ghost shrimp from salt water for non-commercial purposes is required to have a valid fishing license and a saltwater fishing stamp endorsement.

Legal Devices

Crab Line

A baited line with no hook attached.

  • No restrictions.

Umbrella Net

Sometimes called crab net. A non-metallic mesh net that is suspended horizontally in the water by multiple lines attached to a rigid frame.

  • May be used to take crabs and nongame fish only.
  • May not have within the frame an area that exceeds 16 square feet

Folding Panel Traps

  • Only crabs may be taken.
  • Overall surface area (including panels) may not exceed 16 square feet.

Crab Traps

  • Only 6 crab traps at a time may be fished for non-commercial purposes.
  • May only remove crab traps from the water or remove crabs from crab traps during the period from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Tag Requirements

Must be used with a gear tag valid for 10 days and attached within 6 inches of the buoy or pier to which the trap is tied.

Construction and Design Restrictions

  • May not exceed 18 cubic feet.
  • Must be equipped with at least 2 escape vents in each crab-retaining chamber and located on the outside trap walls.
  • Escape vents must be at least 2-3/8 inches in diameter.
  • Must be marked with a white floating buoy not less than 6 inches in height, 6 inches in length and 6 inches in width, bearing a 2-inch wide center stripe of contrasting color, attached to the crab trap.
  • Buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.
  • Must be equipped with a degradable panel. A trap is considered to have a degradable panel if one of the following methods is used in construction of the trap:
    • the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap at one end by a simple loop of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530), sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390) or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or smaller. The trap lid must be secured so that when the twine or wire degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or
    • the trap contains at least one sidewall, not including the bottom panel, with a rectangular opening no smaller in either dimension than 3 inches by 6 inches. Any obstruction placed in this opening may not be secured in any manner except it may be laced, sewn or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530), sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390) or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or smaller knotted only at each end and not tied or looped more than once around a single mesh bar. When the twine or wire degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or
    • the obstruction may be loosely hinged at the bottom of the opening by no more than two untreated steel hog rings and secured at the top of the obstruction in no more than one place by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530), sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390) or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or smaller. When the twine or wire degrades, the obstruction will hinge downward and the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed.

Placement and Location Restrictions:

  • May not place a crab trap or portion thereof closer than 100 feet from any other crab trap, except when traps are secured to a pier or dock.
  • May not fish a crab trap in public fresh waters.
  • May not fish a crab trap within 200 feet of a marked navigable channel in Aransas County; and in the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula.
  • May not possess, use or place more than 3 crab traps in waters north and west of Highway 146 where it crosses the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County.
  • May not use or place more than 3 crab traps in public waters of the San Bernard River north of a line marked by the boat access channel at Bernard Acres.
  • It is unlawful to place any type of trap within the area in Cedar Bayou between a department sign erected where Mesquite Bay flows into Cedar Bayou and the department sign erected near the point where the pass empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Other Devices

Devices legally used for taking of fresh or saltwater fish or shrimp may be used to take crab if operated in places and at times authorized by a proclamation of the Parks and Wildlife Commission or the Parks and Wildlife Code.

See legal devices for fish and shrimp to determine authorized uses, places and times.

Sand Pumps

A self-contained, hand-held, hand-operated suction device used to remove and capture Callianassid ghost shrimp.

  • May only be manually operated.
  • May not be used for commercial purposes.

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