USA: A board of the regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission (ASMFC) is set to decide this week if Maine shrimp season,
which has remained closed since 2013, will be opened this year.
The board has to reach this decision after being advised by a committee of scientists that this winter season opening is not a good idea due to the fact that temperatures off New England are inhospitable to the shrimp, Associated Press reported.
“Given the continued poor condition of the resource and poor prospects for the near future,” the committee recommended “that the Northern Shrimp Section extend the moratorium on fishing through 2017.”
Over the past three seasons, only a handful of boats, hired to conduct sampling activities for the technical committee, were allowed to fish and sell their landings – about 25,000 pounds last winter.
While there are certainly fishermen who would like to rig over their boats and chase shrimp this winter, the technical committee report said that “short-term commercial prospects for the 2017 fishing season are very poor.” The reason for that assessment is that the population of harvestable shrimp remains extremely low.
Representatives of the shrimping sector have experienced difficulties because of the closure and consider that if the fishery remains closed, there will be residual trouble through Maine's seafood industry.
For his part, Max Appelman, a fishery management plan coordinator for the ASMFC stressed that regulators hope the fishery will be able to reopen, but prospects for this year are "dim."
The coordinator also stated that the ASMFC is also working on a plan for how to manage the fishery if and when reopening happens.
"If the fishery opens back up again, which we hope it does, we can't have a free for all on all these shrimp," he said. "This is how to make sure the pressure on this weak population isn't too much for it to handle right off the bat."