Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams has announced that Georgia waters will open for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 6:00 am on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Effective that date, commercial food shrimp trawlers can operate in Georgia’s territorial waters open to power-drawn trawls. Commercial and recreational cast netters, as well as persons using a beach seine, can harvest food shrimp from waters open to the use of these gears.
"The abundance of white shrimp in our most recent coast-wide trawl survey is comparable to historic averages for the month of May," said Jim Page, the Coastal Resources Division (CRD) biologist supervising monthly shrimp sampling. "The majority of the shrimp are large enough to be desirable to recreational harvesters and valuable to commercial fishermen. Survey results also show that many white shrimp have already spawned. After considering this information and input from our Shrimp Advisory Panel, we believe opening on May 30 is the best decision," Page added.
Commercial harvest of food shrimp with power-drawn trawls is restricted to a period from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Federal waters (beyond 3 miles offshore) are open for food shrimp harvest 24 hours a day. Trawler operators are reminded that they must have certified Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) and Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in their trawls while operating in both state and federal waters. Trawl fishermen should watch for further advisories on BRD and TED requirements issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Georgia DNR Conservation Rangers, the United States Coast Guard and NMFS agents will enforce BRD and TED requirements.
Trawler operators are also reminded of the 1,000-foot "Boating Safety Zone" along the beaches of Tybee Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. This boating safety zone is in effect from May 1 through September 30. Motorized craft, both recreational and commercial and including personal watercraft, are prohibited in these zones during this period.
Contact Coastal Resources Division at (912) 264-7218 for information on the opening of the 2012 food shrimp harvest season. Contact NMFS Protected Resources Division at (727) 824-5312 for information on federal requirements for BRDs and TEDs in shrimp trawls.