Northern shrimp surveys point to another year of moratorium

The shrimp section of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met in Portland, Maine, last week and voted to accept the 2018 benchmark assessment for northern shrimp — a report that shows a bleak future for the fishery.

The assessment indicates the northern shrimp population remains severely depleted, spawning stock biomass remains at the same low levels that have kept the fishery shuttered since the 2013 season. The assessment also recorded historically low recruitment of new shrimp into the fishery.

“Warmer water temperatures are generally associated with lower recruitment indices and poorer survival during the first year of life,” the section said in a statement. “Ocean temperatures in the western Gulf of Maine shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade, and temperature is predicted to continue rising as a result of climate change. This suggests an increasingly inhospitable environment for northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine.”

The decision on whether or not to close the fishery for the sixth year straight will be made during a Nov. 15-16 commission shrimp managers’ meeting with the advisory panel to discuss the 2019 season.

Maine shrimp fishermen are frustrated with survey after survey turning up negative results. Some say the entire recovery process needs an overhaul.

“We have no faith in this survey,” Spencer Fuller of Arctic Pride Foods in Freeport, also a member of the Northern Shrimp Advisory Panel told the Bangor Daily News. “The industry as a whole has no faith in this survey. I don’t even think the commissioner [Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources] has much faith in the survey.”

Fuller said he’s heard data was not collected during shrimp surveys from a significant number of stations, and he argued that the research vessel isn’t able to collect data from 90 to 100 fathoms — which is where groundfishermen this year reported seeing “a large volume of shrimp.”

About the author

Samuel Hill

Samuel Hill is associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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