The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR) has announced that the commercial harvest of jellyfish with trawls in Georgia’s territorial waters will open at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, January 1, 2018 and close at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Individuals who wish to participate in jellyfish trawling must contact the Department to obtain a free letter of authorization (LOA) that must remain onboard the vessel when fishing. Prior to receiving an LOA, fishers will be required to submit documentation from an approved processor who has agreed to purchase the catch. Persons wishing to obtain a LOA to harvest jellyfish are asked to contact Julie Califf at 912-264-7218.
Jellyfish trawlers must adhere to all requirements in the LOA, possess all proper state licenses, including a commercial fishing license, and also must adhere to all gear regulations for jellyfish trawls, which still includes the use of a minimum four-inch stretch mesh and a federally approved Turtle Excluder Device (TED) with the opening modified to exclude leatherback sea turtles. TED testing will continue and new designs may be approved in state waters once completed. Until that time, all TED requirements remain the same as previous years.
Cannonball jellyfish began as an experimental fishery in 1998 and became a recognized fishery in 2013 with the passing of Title 27 Reform Legislation in 2012. “The Georgia Cannonball Jellyfish fishery continues to be a growing industry, largest of its kind in the country, and GADNR will monitor its growth to insure balance between user groups and the ecosystem. We will continue to assess gear specifics in an attempt to get agreement with state and federal waters,” states Pat Geer, Marine Fisheries Section Chief, GA DNR/Coastal Resources Division.
For more information on the commercial jellyfish fishery, please call the Coastal Resources Division office at (912) 264-7218.