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A shrimp vessel. (Photo: wdfw.wa.gov)

Shrimp season slashed by 74pc

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012, 00:50 (GMT + 9)

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) this week set the season's shrimp catch limit at 1.38 million lbs -- down from 5.3 million lbs in 2012 -- to protect the shrimp population from overfishing and the effects of higher water temperatures. 

The 2013 season will begin on 22 January for trawlers (instead of in December, as in past seasons), which will be able to catch about 1.2 million lb, and on 5 February for fishers who use traps, with a quota of under 200,000 lb. The season will end when the catch limit is approached, Gloucester Daily Times reports. 

Last season was also shorter than usual as shrimpers quickly surpassed the allowable catch.

The ASMFC underscored that northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) need time to recover because weak numbers entered the fishery in 2010 and 2011.

"Nothern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine are in the sourthern most part of their range, they're considered an arctic, subarctic species, and you don't find them south of Cape Cod," said Maggie Hunter, a scientist at the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), MPBN reports. "So here in the Gulf they're very susceptible to any changes in temperatures, and we are seeing the Gulf of Maine warming recently."

Last month, the Northern Shrimp Technical Committee (NSTC) recommended that the 2013 season must not happen at all, or for it to start after at least 50 per cent of the shrimp had hatched their brood, which has been around 15 February in recent years.

The limited 2013 season will have a palpable impact on both fishers, who partly depend on the shrimp fishery for income, and consumers, as prices will be put under pressure.

For Maine, the new catch limit is a reduction of 74 per cent. In 2011, the state accounted for about 90 per cent of the shrimp landings in the Gulf of Maine. 

Of the 306 shrimping boats that went out in the Gulf of Maine last season, 273 were from Maine, 18 were from New Hampshire and 15 were from Massachusetts, according to the fisheries commission.

Still, Mike Armstrong, a member of the shrimp panel representing the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, thinks the commission did not go far enough, and that sending shrimpers out at all could jeopardize the stock.

"We are being extremely risk-prone in having a season, and there may be consequences to that," he said, The Associated Press reports.

Related article:

- The next shrimp season may not occur in New England  

By Natalia Real


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