Commissioner Mark Williams has announced that Georgia waters will open for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 6:00 am on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. 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. Though abundance and count size has been comparable with previous years, it appears the spawning period for shrimp was slightly delayed this year as a result of cooler than normal water temperatures. However, after taking into consideration our survey results and input from our Shrimp Advisory Panel, we recommended opening on June 11.”
Commercial harvest of food shrimp with power-drawn trawls in state waters is allowed 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 must use certified Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) and Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) 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).
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 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.
GADNR also has announced the creation of a new web-based reporting system for Tiger Shrimp that fishermen may utilize to report the capture of Asian tiger shrimp. “Tiger shrimp are raised in shrimp farms around the world and can grow to three times the size of our native shrimp”, said CRD biologist Todd Mathes, who oversees the collection and reporting of all shrimp data. “The impact of non-indigenous species on native fauna is often unknown. So, we are trying to learn more about the potential impacts this species may have on our native shrimp population” Mathes said.
Contact Coastal Resources Division at (912) 264-7218 for information on the opening of the 2013 food shrimp harvest season or for information on Asian tiger shrimp. Contact NMFS Protected Resources Division at (727) 824-5312 for information on federal requirements for BRDs and TEDs in shrimp trawls.