While many Louisiana diners head to steakhouses on Mardi Gras Day, seafood spots get all the attention once Lent begins in Louisiana. Diners may not see as many crab dishes on the menu this month, though. On February 21, commercial crabbers spent the day off the water as a 30-day crabbing moratorium went into effect, imposed by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
The commission imposed the ban to protect the crabs, saying the harvest was too high. Many commercial crabbers are upset about the ban and the effect it will have on their livelihood, according to the Times-Picayune. “Any recent reduction in the crab population is due to predation from redfish and drum. That's a cyclical event that will change, crabbers said, and the state should not have enacted a moratorium that not only hurts fishers but has a harmful trickle-down effect throughout the economy,” the report said.
The ban could impact what restaurants are able to offer on their menus during the season. According to GW Fins executive chef Michael Nelson, “The availability of domestic blue crab has tightened up drastically. So far, we have been able to bring in crab from Alabama, but eventually that supply is going to be extremely limited. Although this is going to cut into what local restaurants will be able to offer, I definitely think the moratorium is a really good thing and we're behind it 100 percent. Since crawfish season has been early and productive this year, at least there is plenty of crawfish.”
The 30-day closure, which started on the third Monday in February, also will be in effect in 2018 and 2019.