December 17, 2017
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Regulators weigh competing recommendations for reopening New England shrimp fishery

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Robert F. Bukaty | AP | BDN
Robert F. Bukaty | AP | BDN
In this Jan. 6, 2012, file photo, northern shrimp lay on snow aboard a trawler in the Gulf of Maine. Seafood lovers might see the return of Maine shrimp to fish market counters and restaurants next year if interstate regulators decide the critter's population is strong enough. The Maine shrimp fishery has been shut down since 2013.

Regulators with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are expected to decide Wednesday afternoon whether to allow shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine for the first time in five years.

The fishery has been under an extended moratorium since it was last open in 2013 due to declining stocks. Regulators have to consider competing recommendations, one from an advisory panel and another from a separate technical committee, on whether to reopen it.

In a report released last week, the fishery’s technical committee recommended that the fishery remain closed, saying that the resource has been in “poor condition.”

A panel that advises the commission’s shrimp “section,” which will vote on the matter, recommended that the fishery be reopened in a meeting in Portland on Wednesday morning, in advance of the expected vote.

Shrimp catches in the Gulf of Maine are historically cyclical, but scientists have said that increasing water temperatures in the gulf are making it harder for shrimp to have long-term prospects.

In 2010, more than 12 million pounds of northern shrimp were caught in the Gulf of Maine, the vast majority of of which was harvested by Maine fishermen. In 2013, the most recent year the fishery was open, fewer than 600,000 pounds of shrimp were harvested in the gulf.

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