House Bill 1046 from state Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Belle Chasse, and the Louisiana Legislature's Oyster Task Force creates new regulations for the state's oyster industry in an effort to protect and preserve reefs. The measure — developed in part by a coalition of Gulf Coast oyster fishermen in the Gulf Oyster Industry Council — passed the Louisiana House 94-0 on April 10.
While present law authorizes shell stock oysters to be sold by volumetric measure, weight or count, HB 1046 would require all such oysters to be "market size and wholesome." The bill also prohibits the removal of oysters less than three inches from hinge to mouth from natural reefs by any person, not just oyster fishermen.
HB 1046 also requires all shucked oysters to be labeled and packaged as required under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and for all oyster fishermen and "certified wholesale/retail dealers of shell stock and shucked oyster products" to confirm their compliance with those standards. The bill heads to the Louisiana Senate.