Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2014 winter shrimp season canceled

We won't be waiting for the Margaret E to come in, low in the stern, heavy with shrimp on a snowy winter evening.  Not this year - and perhaps not for several years to come.  We will be waiting to see if the shrimp reproduce in the Gulf of Maine, or move to different waters. - gwc
ASMFC Northern Shrimp Section Establishes Moratorium for 2014 Fishing Season 
Portland, ME – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section approved a moratorium for the 2014 northern shrimp fishing season. The results of the 2013 Assessment Report for Gulf of Maine Northern Shrimp indicate the northern shrimp stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. 
Northern shrimp abundance in the western Gulf of Maine has declined steadily since 2006. Current biomass (500 mt) is the lowest value in recent history, estimated at 5.2% for the biomass reference period (1985-1994), and well below the biomass threshold of 9,000 mt and the biomass limit of 6,000 mt.   Additionally, there has been recruitment failure for the past three years. The Northern Shrimp Technical Committee considers the stock to have collapsed with little prospect of recovery in the near future. 

“Given the overwhelming evidence of recruitment failure and stock collapse, and continuing unfavorable environmental conditions, the Section felt it was necessary to close the 2014 fishery to protect the remaining spawning biomass and allow as much hatch to take place as possible,” stated Northern Shrimp Section Chair Terry Stockwell of Maine. “When environmental conditions are poor, the ability of the stock to withstand fishing pressure is reduced. With the stock at all time lows and only failed year classes to come, there is even greater loss of resilience for this stock.” 

The 2013 season, which was classified as a “do no harm” fishery, still resulted in a fishing mortality rate (0.53) above the target (0.38). This was despite the fact that only 49% of the total allowable catch was harvested (307 mt of 625 mt). Since the fishery targets 4- and 5- year old females, the 2013 fishery targeted the 2008 and 2009 year classes. Projecting this forward, the 2014 fishery would fish on the 2009 and 2010 year classes, with the 2010 year class representing the first year of failed recruitment in the fishery. The Section noted that due to this recruitment failure, it is possible that the moratorium could extend beyond one year.