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article imageGulf of Maine shrimp stock depleted - Fishery closed 3 more years

By Karen Graham     Nov 20, 2018 in Environment
Regulators voted Friday to close the Gulf of Maine winter shrimp season for another three years, raising fears that the fishery decimated by rising water temperatures may never bounce back.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Friday, Nov. 16 to cancel not only the 2019 Maine shrimp season but the 2020 and 2021 seasons as well. The shrimp fishery has been shut down since 2013 in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
Both New Hampshire and Massachusetts supported the closure, while Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, voted no, according to the Lincoln County News.
Keliher would have supported a one-year moratorium, through the end of 2018. Shrimp fishermen and the Maine board had been pushing for a limited commercial fishery – ranging from 500 to 2,000 tons – but were overruled.
“After 40 years in this business, I know that Mother Nature has a remarkable ability, if we leave the spawning stock in the water, to recover,” said Mike Armstrong, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries representative to the panel. “I’m not convinced that is going to happen … but I want to give this stock a chance to recover for a few more years.”
Tina Berger, a spokeswoman for the agency said “the stock has shown very little signs of recovery. It’s considered a depleted resource." The closure does not allow for any research quota because “any level of fishing pressure that would increase mortality further would hinder any kind of stock rebuilding.”
EPA doing survey of plankton population in Gulf of Maine.
EPA doing survey of plankton population in Gulf of Maine.
US Environmental-Protection-Agency
Survey of shrimp stock not promising
In 2010. Maine fishermen hauled out over 12 million pounds of the small, sweet shrimp that are a prized wintertime seafood for many New Englanders. However, after an abbreviated shrimp season in 2013, Maine's shrimp fishery has been closed because of concerns over the health of the shrimp population.
Yearly seasonal surveys have not shown any improvement in shrimp numbers. The commission’s scientific staff said last week that the “total biomass” of northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine and the number of spawning and harvest-size shrimp have been "at record lows for the past six years."
Researchers have been studying not only the collapse of the shrimp population but the reduction in cod, lobster and other marine fisheries along the Northeast coast.
All signs have pointed to an increase in northern Atlantic ocean temperatures as having a negative impact on marine populations, and a recent Gulf of Maine Research Institute study found that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans. The shrimp are especially sensitive to changes in water temperature, Berger said.
“Long-term trends in environmental conditions have not been favorable for northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine,” reads the commission staff’s recommendation on extending the moratorium on a commercial fishery. “This suggests a need to conserve spawning stock biomass to help compensate for what may continue to be an unfavorable environment.”
More about gulf of maine, shrimp fishery, shrimp stock depleted, warming waters, Extinction
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