Federal regulators may limit the number of fishermen allowed to catch northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine once the depleted fishery reopens.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission closed the shrimp season for 2014 for the first time in more than 30 years because shrimp populations dipped to their lowest recorded levels. The commission will decide this fall if there will be a 2015 season.
The commission’s northern shrimp section is now also considering restrictions that could limit the number of licenses to fish for shrimp or the number of vessels allowed in the fishery. The restrictions are in development and will likely be the subject of public hearings this year, regulators said.
The fishery’s estimated biomass plunged from more than 7,000 metric tons in 2011 to about 500 metric tons in 2013, said Marin Hawk, management plan coordinator for the commission.
“We’re investigating the number of vessels and the number of licenses,” Hawk said. “Indicators show the fishery is not at the levels that they would like it to see.”
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