File Photo

Shrimp season dates? Scientists suggest none



File Photo
A drastic decline in the Northern shrimp population could force regulators to ban fishing this winter and keep boats like this trawler, fishing off Isle au Haut in February 2009, in port this coming winter.

ELLSWORTH — Fishermen should know within a few days whether there will be a shrimp season this winter and, if there is one, whether the landings that are allowed will be worth the effort of rigging over their boats.

The Northern Shrimp Section of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is scheduled to meet in Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 3, to set the dates for the 2014 shrimp fishing season. The question, though, is whether there should be any season at all.

The answer, according to Department of Marine Resources (DMR) scientist Maggie Hunter, should be no.

Hunter is a member of a technical committee of scientists that advises the ASMFC fisheries regulators about the status of the Northern shrimp stock.

“The technical committee will be recommending a fishing moratorium for the 2014 season,” Hunter wrote in an e-mail last week.

In the e-mail, Hunter said that computer models that used data from trawl surveys in the Gulf of Maine conducted last spring and again last summer show that the shrimp stock is at its lowest level in at least 35 years.

“Our 2 models are both showing the current biomass is the lowest in their time series, even lower than in 1978 when the fishery was closed,” Hunter wrote.

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Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]