Marine fisheries is a broad category that consists of crabs, shrimp, menhaden, and commercial fin fish. Louisiana’s commercial seafood industry has thrived since the 1800s. Before refrigeration was readily available, exportation of seafood was difficult. New Orleans restaurants and markets were where most seafood was found. In the 20th century, refrigeration and better transportation were made available, and Louisiana seafood industry’s sales skyrocketed. Today, Louisiana’s seafood is enjoyed worldwide. Louisiana is the largest commercial fishery industry in the U.S. 

Production of marine fisheries varies between species. 

Shrimp: There are two primary species of shrimp harvested in Louisiana: brown shrimp and white shrimp. Shrimp are harvested with various types of nets. A trawl is funnel-shaped and pulled by a boat along the ocean floor. It is designed to capture shrimp while it moves through the water. Butterfly nets, skimmer nets, and cast nets are also used to catch shrimp. Brown shrimp are usually harvested in the spring, and white shrimp are usually harvested in the fall.  Shrimp are an excellent source of protein and vitamin B12.  

Crabs: Blue crabs make up almost all of Louisiana’s crab harvest. They are fast-growing marine crustaceans. Louisiana is the number one domestic supplier of blue crab in the United States. Crabs are harvested year-round, but catches peak in June, July and August.  Louisiana commercial crab fishermen use baited crab traps made of wire mesh, which are attached to Styrofoam floats and placed in the water. 

Menhaden: The menhaden fishery is one of the United States’ oldest and most valuable fisheries. They are used in fishmeal, fish oil, and condensed fish soluble. Menhaden meal is an ingredient for animal feeds, as it contains 60 percent protein. More than 97 percent of Louisiana’s total finfish harvest is menhaden.


  • Cast net - A net that is thrown out and immediately drawn in again

  • Exportation - Commodities sold to a foreign country 

  • Skimmer net - A net that skims the top of the water 

  • Trawl - Funnel-shaped and pulled by a boat along the ocean floor 

Okra, Shrimp, Crab Gumbo
Serves 16

  • 2 cups raw shrimp, peeled, deveined

  • 1 teaspoon Tony’s creole seasoning

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 medium onions, chopped

  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper

  • ½ cup chopped green onion tops 

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 4 cups cut okra

  • 1 teaspoon Tony’s creole seasoning

  • 4 quarts boiling water

  • 12 boiled and cleaned crabs

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine 

  1. Combine shrimp and creole seasoning; set aside.

  2. In a 10-quart soup pot, make a roux with oil and flour over medium-high heat, stirring until golden brown.

  3. Add shrimp, onion, celery, pepper, onion, and garlic; cook for 20 minutes.

  4. Add okra and creole seasoning; cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Add boiling water and crabs; cook on medium heat for about ¾ hour, stirring often.

  6. Turn heat off; add butter and cover pot until ready for use. Serve with rice or hot garlic bread.  

Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 56 
Submitted by Bertha Graugnard of West St. James Parish