Maine’s shrimp industry unlikely to restart, experts say

PORTLAND – A panel of experts recommends keeping the New England shrimp fishing industry closed due to population health concerns.

In this 1996 photograph, two shrimp caught in Maine waters show the size difference between the male at the top and the female at the bottom. Gordon Chibroski / Personal Photographer

The industry has been closed since 2013. Scientists said the shrimp were under threat in part because of warming waters off New England. A board of directors of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Regulatory Commission is expected to vote on Dec. 17 on whether to reopen the fishery.

The board is based on a recommendation from a technical committee made up of scientists, regulators and other experts. A report released by the committee Thursday recommended that the board maintain the fishing moratorium.

The report of the technical committee indicates that it makes sense to keep the fishery closed because of the “poor state of the resource, the extremely low probability of being able to fish sustainably and the interest of maximizing the reproductive potential to rebuild the stock if the environment conditions improve.

The board of directors last voted to extend the existing moratorium on commercial shrimp fishing in 2018.

The industry was a winter fishery based primarily in Maine. Fishermen in Maine harvested more than 10 million pounds of shrimp a year as of 2011. Catches fell to less than 5 million pounds in 2012 and to less than 600,000 pounds in 2013, when the moratorium entered into force.

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