North American laws concerning crayfish

This page is intended to help current and potential pet owners of Marmorkrebs and other crayfish to determine if purchasing crayfish is legal in their location. This page is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be considered to be definitive or complete. Check with state and local agencies to ensure all laws are current.

States and provinces that specifically prohibit or regulate Marmorkrebs:

States and provinces regulating import or sale of crayfish:

States and provinces prohibiting release of crayfish into local waters:

Go to Canada

United States

Alabama: “It shall be unlawful to intentionally stock or release any fish, mussel, snail, crayfish or their embryos including bait fish into the public waters of Alabama under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries as provided in Rule 220-2-.42 except those waters from which it came without the written permission of a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to issue such permit. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the incidental release of bait into the water during the normal process of fishing.” - Regulations Relating To Game, Fish and Fur-Bearing Animals [Last viewed 22 January 2009]

Alaska: No relevant laws found, although signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) are considered a threat. - Invasive Species in Alaska [Last viewed 22 January 2009]

Arizona: “An individual may not transport, sell, offer for sale, give away, or release live freshwater crayfish except as allowed under this Section or R12-4-316.” - Exemptions from Special License Requirements for Restricted Live Wildlife [Last viewed 22 January 2009]

Arkansas: “It shall be unlawful to release any native or non-native aquatic wildlife, including their eggs, into the public waters of the State of Arkansas without the written permission of the Chief of Fisheries, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Excess baitfish (including crayfish) shall not be released alive into public waters.” - Section 32 - General Fishing Regulations [Last viewed 22 January 2009]

California: “Importation of any live crayfish into California requires a permit issued by the Department. Live importation of exotic species of crayfish also requires authorization of the California Fish and Game Commission. ... Section 671 of Title 14, CCR, prohibits the importation or release alive in California of any species of crayfish of the family Cambaridae, except Procambarus clarkii and Orconectes virilis.” - Regulations governing take, sale or transport of crayfish for commercial purposes [Last viewed 22 January 2009]

Colorado: “The taking, possession and use of any crustacean for commercial use is permitted, subject to the following conditions:” (Conditions refer to use for food and fishing). Fishing regulations, Section G [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Connecticut: No relevant laws found at Department of Environmental Protection. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Delaware: No relevant laws found at Division of Fish and Wildlife. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Florida: “It is illegal to release any nonnative species in Florida without a permit.” - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Georgia: No relevant laws found at Georgia Department of Natural Resources. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Hawaii: No relevant laws found at Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Idaho: No relevant laws found at Idaho Fish and Game. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Illinois: No relevant laws found at Department of Natureal Resources. [Last viewed 27 January 2009]

Indiana: “A person desiring to possess in Indiana at one (1) time more than: (1) five hundred (500) live minnows; or (2) five hundred (500) live crayfish; not intended for the purpose of engaging in the business of taking, catching, selling, or bartering live minnows or crayfish for bait must procure a permit to possess the minnows or crayfish.” - Indiana Department of Natural Resources Bait Dealer's License Regulations [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Iowa: No relevant laws found at Iowa Department of Natural Resources. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Kansas: No relevant laws found at Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Kentucky: No relevant laws found at Kentucky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Resources. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Louisiana: No relevant laws found at Louisiana Dept of Wildlife & Fisheries. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Maine: No relevant laws found at Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Maryland: “(Maryland) prohibits the import, transport, purchase, possession, propagation, sale, and/or release of [several species of] crayfish in State waters.” - Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources Fact Sheet: Marmorkrebs. [Last viewed 30 August 2010]

Massachusetts: No relevant laws found at Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Michigan: No relevant laws found at Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources. [Last viewed 28 January 2009]

Minnesota: “The transportation of live native and invasive crayfish from one waterbody to another within the state is prohibited, except by permit issued by the DNR. Live crayfish or crayfish eggs may not be imported without a permit issued by the DNR. Live crayfish may not be sold for live bait or for use in aquariums. Live crayfish taken from a waterbody can only be used as bait in that same waterbody.” Minnesota invasive species laws - Crayfish regulations [Last viewed 4 April 2018]

Mississippi: No relevant laws found at Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks [Last viewed 4 February 2009]

Missouri: Marmorkrebs in particular will be added to a prohibited species list as of 1 March 2011. - Conservation Action Meeting of the March 2010 Conservation Commission [Last viewed 30 August 2010]

Montana: Rusty crayfish are listed as an aquatic nuisance species and are prohibited. “A valid fishing license is required to harvest crayfish for personal use.” - Special Fishing Licenses, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks [Last viewed 4 February 2009]

Nebraska: No relevant laws found at Nebraska Game and Parks Commision Main Site. [Last viewed 4 February 2009]

Nevada: No relevant laws found at Nevada Dept. of Wildlife. [Last viewed 4 February 2009]

New Hampshire: “Crayfish are often used by schools for observation and experimentation. Never release them into the natural environment. Not only do they displace native crayfish and alter the food web, but it’s illegal.” - Don’t Leave Them Stranded PDF brochure, New Hampshire Fish & Game. [Last viewed 4 February 2009]

New Jersey: “(R)eleasing any fish species or its eggs into any State water (public or private) that eventually flows into the ocean is illegal without a special permit.” - “Never release exotic fish into state waters” press release, New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife [Last viewed 8 February 2009]

New Mexico: No relevant laws found. Currently, a bill (HB 467) is under consideration that would determine how species are designated invasive. Also, crayfish are mentioned in an aquatic invasive species document fromNew Mexico Game & Fish [Last viewed 11 February 2009]

New York: No relevant laws, but aquatic invasive species are a concern. New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation [Last viewed 11 February 2009]

North Carolina: No relevant laws found at North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission [Last viewed 11 February 2009]

North Dakota: No relevant laws found, but rusty crayfish are noted as a nuisance species. - North Dakota’s Aquatic Nuisance Species List, North Dakota Game and Fish [Last viewed 21 February 2009]

Ohio: No relevant laws found at Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources [Last viewed 21 February 2009]

Oklahoma: An aside is made in a description of the potential threat of rusty crayfish that “the potential for importation into Oklahoma (although illegal) exists.” It is not clear what law is being referred to, and whether it applies to all crayfish, this species only, or something else. - Rusty crayfish, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Main Site [Last viewed 24 February 2009]

Oregon: There are several laws regulating the selling of crayfish caught in Oregon waters. - Commerical Crayfish Information. Crayfish are listed as potential pest species. - Oregon’s Ten Most Unwanted Invaders, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife [Last viewed 24 February 2009]

Pennsylvania: “Aquatic species banned in Pennsylvania (sale, barter, possession or transportation): Crayfish (all species) except when they are either transported: (i) As bait on, in or about the water from which taken. (ii) For testing and scientific purposes or restaurant consumption, adequate measures have been taken to prevent their escape and they are accompanied by documentation stating the point of origin and the destination to which they are to be delivered.” - Aquatic Invasive Species, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. This blog post describes more. [Last viewed 14 March 2021]

Rhode Island: No relevant laws found at Bureau of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife [Last viewed 12 March 2009]

South Carolina: “Preventing the introduction and spread of non-native, invasive species is the responsibility of all outdoor enthusiasts. Residents and visitors should be familiar with state and federal laws and regulations on possession, movement, and introduction of non-native plants and wildlife before introducing any living material into South Carolina waters. Any intentional or unintentional introduction may be a violation of law.” Crayfish are listed in “Aquatic Invasive Species Introduction Concerns.” - Rules and Regulations (PDF), South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

South Dakota: No relevant laws found at South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks [Last viewed 31 March 2009]

Tennessee: No relevant laws found at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Crayfish are noted as a potential nuisance species, however: "Other nonnative, non-game species of concern include aquatic reptiles or amphibians (such as snakes, turtles, frogs or salamanders) brought into Tennessee from other states or countries as well as exotic snail species that are usually transported through the pet trade or aquatic garden business and crayfish used as bait or educational tools." - Tennessee Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan [Last viewed 31 March 2009]

Texas: All southern hemisphere crayfish (Family Parastacidae) are prohibited. - Prohibited Exotic Species, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department [Last viewed 31 March 2009]

Utah: All crayfish are “controlled for entry” in Utah, according to Utah Department of Agriculture (PDF). Also, “Live crayfish cannot be transported away from the water where they were caught.” - Crayfishing for fun and food, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources [Last viewed 4 April 2009]

Vermont: No relevant laws found, although rusty crayfish are listed as an non-native with “the potential to be invasive on a localized or widespread scale.” - Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department [Last viewed 4 April 2009]

Virginia: "A special permit is required and may be issued by the Department, if consistent with the Department's fish and wildlife management program, to import, possess, or sell the following non-native (exotic)... aquatic invertebrates(:) rusty crayfish, Australian crayfish(.) ... All other non-native (exotic)... aquatic invertebrates... not listed above may be possessed, purchased, and sold; provided, that such animals shall be subject to all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations, including those that apply to threatened/endangered species, and further provided, that such animals shall not be liberated within the Commonwealth." (Emphasis added.) - Nongame Fish, Reptile, Amphibian and Aquatic Invertebrate Regulations, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries [Last viewed 7 April 2009]

Washington: Many crayfish, including all Cambaridae (which is the family to which Marmorkrebs belong), are considered aquatic nuisance species and are listed as “prohibited.” - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife [Last viewed 20 May 2010]

West Virginia: No relevant laws found at West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. [Last viewed 8 April 2009]

Wisconsin: All non-native crayfish are “prohibited,” which means transport, posession, and introduction are illegal (with some exceptions)). - Department of Natural Resources, NR40 [4 April 2018] “It is illegal to possess both live crayfish and angling equipment simultaneously on any inland Wisconsin water (except the Mississippi River). It is also illegal to release crayfish into a water of the state without a permit. A fishing license is required to harvest crayfish.” - Rusty Crayfish, Invasive Species, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources [Last viewed 8 April 2009]

Wyoming: No relevant laws found at Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. [Last viewed 8 April 2009]


Alberta: "Crayfish cannot be used as bait. It is unlawful to possess live crayfish." - Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations 2016 (PDF), Alberta Environment and Natural Resources, [Last viewed 3 November 2016]

British Columbia: No relevant laws found at Ministry of Wildlife Fish and Wildlife Branch. [Last viewed 10 December 2009]

Manitoba: “Effective May 1, 2007, it is illegal to possess crayfish (this includes possession for consumption).” - The Rusty Crayfish, Manitoba Conservation Department [Last viewed 3 November 2016]

New Brunswick: No relevant laws found at New Brunswick Natural Resources Department [Last viewed 10 December 2009]

Newfoundland and Labrador: “The use of live aquatic bait, such as crayfish and minnows, is not permitted in Newfoundland and Labrador.” - Stop the introduction of invasive alien species, Environment and Conservation. [Last viewed 10 December 2009]

Nova Scotia: No relevant laws found at Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. [Last checked 3 November 2016]

Ontario: “Must be used in same water body where caught. May not be transported overland. ... It is illegal to bring any... crayfish... into Ontario for use as bait.” - “Bait for personal use,” Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. [Last viewed 10 December 2009]

Prince Edward Island: No relevant laws found at Prince Edward Island Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Rural Development. [Last viewed 10 December 2009]

Quebec: Crayfish are only allowed to be transported to areas where live fish bait is allowed (approximate translation). - “Les écrevisses du Québec,” Ressources naturelles et Faune. [Last viewed 10 December 2009]

Saskatchewan: “(L)ive... crayfish may not be imported into Saskatchewan.” - “2018 ANgler's guide,” Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment. [Last viewed 4 April 2018]

Back to main page