ELLSWORTH — The Department of Marine Resources extended the deadline and sweetened the deal in the hope of attracting applications to participate in its 2018 Northern Shrimp Cooperative Winter Sampling program.
DMR was offering up to $2,500 in pay for a shrimp trawler to collect shrimp samples off the Midcoast, starting about Jan. 29. The purpose of the program is solely to collect scientific samples for DMR. No shrimp may be kept or sold.
Last week, DMR announced that it was upping the ante to $3,450 in an effort to attract some interest and extended the deadline to Wednesday, Jan. 3.
DMR has been looking for one shrimp trawler and captain to collect northern shrimp samples in the Midcoast area, making at least three trips and making three short tows each trip about once about every two to three weeks, until the shrimp are no longer carrying eggs.
The purpose of the project is to collect northern shrimp samples during the winter period when the shrimp are in inshore waters and gather data on the timing of the egg hatch, and the size, gender and developmental stage of the shrimp. Samples are to be collected from traditional shrimp fishing grounds anywhere between Small Point (Phippsburg) and Pemaquid Point. The fishing locations within that region will be chosen by the captain.
Qualified captains must have past shrimp fishing experience. The vessel must have a current U.S. Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety decal. The gear should be typical legal Maine shrimp trawl gear with a standard Nordmore, compound or double grates. The captain should plan on taking a DMR observer.
The selected vessel and captain will collect samples beginning late this month and then about once every two to three weeks. The captain and the DMR project leader, Maggie Hunter, will develop the schedule together, depending on the rate of egg hatch as the season progresses, and the number of trips the captain can make.
During each trip, the trawler will conduct three short tows in locations where the captain would normally fish for shrimp. Each tow should be no more than about 15 minutes long and catch at least 4 to 5 pounds of shrimp. One 2-kilogram (about 4.5 pounds) sample will be collected from each tow. All other catch, including shrimp, must be discarded overboard as soon as possible.
For each tow, the captain should record the date, tow number and GPS coordinates of the tow. Also recorded should be the tow start time, duration, depth and an estimate of the pounds of of shrimp caught. The information will be made public in a final project report, and will not be confidential.
The trawler captain selected for this project will sign a standard special services contract with the state. Work will be performed under a special DMR license.