National Fisherman


Towing in the trenches

Maine's 2012 northern shrimp season is short but not so sweet

By Melissa Wood

There's plenty of squawking coming over the radio as we head out of Portland harbor.

"You can't f—king do it three f—king days a week," says one unidentified voice.

But if you're a trawler taking part in Maine's 2012 northern shrimp season, you do have to do it three days a week. We're fishing under new rules for the 2012 season, which began for trawlers on Jan. 2. In an attempt to make the pitiful quota of 2,000 metric tons last longer, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has restricted fishing to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with each day beginning a half hour before sunrise and ending with gear out of the water promptly at 3 p.m.

Today, Wednesday, Jan. 11, skipper Steve Jordan has something else to be unhappy about. Some of those voices on the radio are coming from boats leaving the harbor before us. As he steams the 65-foot trawler Jamie & Ashley away from the dock a little after 4:30 a.m., he points out three distinct lights in the pitch dark ahead.

"I hate having other people go out before me," Jordan says. "It's always a race."

On the previous fishing day, Monday, Jordan had been the leader of the pack in the sense that he was the highliner that day — which is all that really matters in an open-access fishery like this. It's no surprise that everyone else wants to go to the spot where he had scooped up a hefty 7,000 pounds.

It was beginning to look like a good run for the Jamie & Ashley despite the season's limitations. On the previous Friday, which was the crew's first day out shrimping, they had brought back a decent haul of 5,000 pounds.

But Jordan is not overconfident as we head out. A boat next to him on Monday only brought back seven boxes of shrimp, or 700 pounds.

"It's all luck," says Jordan. "Today could be a role reversal."

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

Read more...

Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

Read more...
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