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

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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