Future access plans for this waning US fishery shelved for later

Published on
September 29, 2015

Future management plans for the Gulf of Maine northern shrimp fishery will have to wait until next summer.

The three states involved in the northern shrimp section of the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission (ASMFC) have decided to postpone the drafting of amendments for the waning fishery, and will address the prospect of limiting access to Gulf of Maine waters for shrimping when the fishery reopens next season. As it stands, Maine will have to compose a plan that aligns with the needs and wants of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and the remainder of the ASMFC, explained a spokesperson for the commission.

“The states were having trouble finding something that would work for them all,” said ASMFC spokeswoman Tina Berger to The Gloucester Times. “So, for now, Maine will tackle it on their own because they have by far the largest number of fishermen in the fishery.”

Up to this point, the Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery has been open-access. When the fishery was last open in 2013, shrimping vessels were a dominant force with 207 boats permitted to trawl for shrimp in the gulf. Of those vessels, 180 ported in Maine, with shrimpers from the Pine Tree state hauling in 83 percent (255.5 metric tons) of all shrimp landed that year.

Following stock assessments, ASMFC shuttered the fishery for 2014 and 2015. Overfishing, rising water temperatures, falling numbers of spawning females and low recruitment rates all contributed to the decision to shut down the fishery over the past two seasons, reported The Times; when the commission meets on 7 December, it is predicted that these factors will again result in the fishery’s closure for the 2016 season.

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