The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a notice of intent at their Sept. 3 meeting to amend the Special Bait Dealer Permit rule. The amendment would allow businesses which hold a special live bait dealer permit to harvest and sell live bait shrimp and live croaker to the fishing public during the closed shrimp season beginning May 1 of each year and between the spring and fall inshore shrimp season.

Additionally, the fee for each special bait dealer permit would increase from $100 to $110. Act 115 of the 2009 Regular Legislative Session sponsored by Representative Karen St. Germain provides the commission with authority to amend the current rule.

Current regulations limit special bait dealer permittees to the harvest and sale of live shrimp and live croaker between the spring and fall inshore shrimp season. No special permits are required to harvest and sell live bait during open shrimp season. 

The proposed rule is in response to increased public demand for live bait, which has often exceeded available bait dealer supplies. In recent years, the spring shrimp season in certain state waters has opened as late as June 2 and increased demand for live bait has often exceeded available bait dealer supplies.

"The proposed rule will benefit recreational saltwater anglers," said Randy Pausina, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Secretary of Fisheries. "The rule will also boost fishing success for their long-standing favorite and Louisiana's most often targeted recreational saltwater species, speckled trout."

Last amended in 2007, the Special Bait Dealer Permit Rule is intended solely for the benefit of the recreational fishing public which desires to use live shrimp and live croaker as bait during closed shrimp season between the spring and fall inshore shrimp seasons. Its purpose is to allow the uninterrupted operation of those commercial establishments that sell live bait to the fishing public during the spring and fall inshore shrimp seasons. 

The special bait dealer permit is not intended for the direct use of recreational fishermen, charter boats, commercial fishermen who sell dead bait, or for any other entity which may wish to catch bait for their own use during closed shrimp season. 

Interested persons may submit written comments relative to the proposed rule to Martin Bourgeois, Marine Fisheries Biologist, Office of Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000 prior to Nov. 5, 2009.