Short Shrimp Season Due to Declining Stocks
Thursday, December 27, 2012 7:34 AM
The 2013 northern shrimp season, which opens Wednesday, January 23, for trawl fishing, will be short due to declining stocks that are the result of warming ocean temperatures and overfishing, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
There will be two trawl landing days, Mondays and Wednesdays, with no trip limits.
The shrimp trapping season begins February 5, with fishing allowed every day but Sunday. There will be an 800-pound trip limit.
The season promises to be very short, since it is a 72-percent reduction from the 2012 season. Northern shrimp, which live in the cold northern waters, have a life span of less than five years, with shrimp landings determined by the abundance of four- and five-year-olds.
Three years ago, the scientific evidence pointed to increased fishing harvests for 2012-2014 due to a large number of shrimp aging into the four-to-five-year-old class.
That didn't happen for a variety of reasons.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Northern Shrimp Section, which manages the fishery, considered several factors in setting the 2013 shrimp fishing regulations.
These include: (1) northern shrimp have been overfished for the past three years; (2) the abundance of spawning shrimp is in decline; and (3) warming ocean temperatures combined with fewer spawning shrimp are producing fewer young shrimp.
Increasingly warmer ocean temperatures in the western Gulf of Maine over the past three years are creating unfavorable habitat for northern shrimp and are likely reducing shrimp numbers, making the protection of spawning populations critical to the stability of the fishery over the longer term.
The commission will close the trawl and trap fisheries when 85 percent of the total allowable catch is reached. Fishermen will get a four-day advance notice of the closure. The commission has also been discussing adopting limited entry for new shrimp fishermen.
The northern shrimp fishery is jointly regulated by Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine through the commission, a cooperative management program that has been in place since 1972.