PORTLAND, Maine New England fishermen will have a short shrimp-fishing season with a low quota this winter.
An Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission panel on Monday set a catch limit of about 1.4 million pounds for the season, which will begin Jan. 23 for net fishermen and Feb. 1 for trap fishermen. Last year’s catch was about 5.3 million pounds.
Scientists had recommended a moratorium this winter because the Gulf of Maine shrimp population is in such poor shape. They say warming ocean temperatures aren’t favorable for shrimp.
“The rationale for severe reductions is the fact that the stock is currently over-fished, and over-fishing has been occurring for the past two to three years,” Tina Berger, of the fisheries commission, said.
But Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association President Angela Sanfilippo said the reason for the quota reduction doesn’t matter.
“It’s another nail in the coffin that we desperately keep trying not to put in the ground,” Sanfilippo said. “We don’t want to eat imported shrimp; we want our local shrimp.”
Shrimp provide a small yet valuable regional fishery. Maine fishermen account for about 90 percent of the catch, with New Hampshire and Massachusetts harvesting the rest.
Sanfilippo said many Massachusetts fishermen may choose not take their boats out at all because the new limits are so low shrimp fishermen may not be able to turn a profit.
Regulators set the season each year based on scientific surveys of the highly variable shrimp population.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom