ELLSWORTH — While the 2015 Gulf of Maine shrimp fishing season was closed because of record low abundance, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Department of Marine Resources are sponsoring a program to collect data that will help managers better understand the future prospects of the fishery.
While data from this limited sampling project won’t help estimate current stock abundance as do the more comprehensive surveys conducted annually by the National Marine Fisheries Service, DMR and ASMFC, it will help managers track the timing of egg hatch, size and gender and developmental stage of the shrimp.
Four trawlers from Maine and Massachusetts and five Maine-based trappers have been selected to collect samples in four regions in the Gulf of Maine.
The project is timed to coincide with the historical commercial fishing season so data can be more accurately compared with past fishery samples.
In December, DMR sent a notice to 2012 and 2013 licensed trappers and trawlers as well as wholesale dealers seeking applications for the program. The department is paying trawlers $500 per trip and allowing each to sell up to 1,800 pounds of landed shrimp per trip. Trappers are allowed to keep up to 100 pounds of shrimp per week for personal use only.
Total budget for the project is $10,000, provided equally by ASMFC and DMR. DMR funds come from shrimp licensing fees.
Starting in late January, the trawlers began fishing in four regions of the Gulf of Maine. Fishing approximately once every two weeks, for a total of five trips apiece, they will continue until the shrimp are no longer carrying eggs, estimated to be near the middle of March.
The five trappers will each fish up to 10 traps and will provide samples to DMR five times between Feb. 1 and March 20.
Samples from the program are now being worked up at the DMR laboratory and results to date can be found on the DMR website at maine.gov/dmr/rm/shrimp/.
Information: contact DMR scientist Maggie Hunter at 633-9541 or by email at [email protected]