The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the state's recreational and commercial food shrimp season will be extended from its regularly scheduled closure Dec. 31 until 6:20 p.m. Jan. 18, 2024.
The decision comes thanks to above-average size of Georgia's shrimp population in December, exceeding the 20-year average and prompting DNR Commissioner Walter Rabon to sign an administrative order extending the season.
"We're happy to announce this extension for Georgia's shrimpers," said Carolyn Belcher, chief of fisheries for DNR’s Coastal Resources Division, which manages state commercial and recreation marine fisheries. "Our recent monitoring surveys revealed shrimp exceeding 20-year average size, indicating a healthy population well-prepared for continued sustainable harvest.”
This extension allows commercial shrimpers to continue to use power-drawn nets and recreational shrimpers to use cast nets and seine nets within the three-mile territorial waters of the state. All normal commercial and recreational shrimping laws continue to be in effect during this extension, including the use of turtle-excluder devices for commercial vessels and the daily limits for recreational food shrimpers using cast nets and seines. Visit the website eRegulations.com/Georgia/Fishing for complete regulations. Recreational shrimpers must have a valid Georgia fishing license and Saltwater Information Program permit.
"The extended season presents a fantastic opportunity for both seasoned shrimpers and those just starting out," Belcher added. "With the larger-than-average shrimp readily available, it's a perfect time to enjoy this exciting activity and savor a coastal Georgia favorite."
Georgia’s commercial and recreational food shrimp season closes by statute every year on Dec. 31, but the law allows the DNR Commissioner to extend the season as late as the end of February if conditions warrant. A Shrimp Advisory Panel hosted by the Coastal Resources Division and comprised of fishery stakeholders makes an annual recommendation to the DNR Commissioner, and this year voted unanimously to recommend extending the season during its Monday, Dec. 18, meeting.
In data presented to the Shrimp Advisory Panel, DNR sampling in the month of December showed an average of 2.04 pounds of shrimp collected per 15-minute trawl, compared to the 20-year average (2003-2023) of 1.93 pounds. Additionally, in December sampling, it took an average of 20.62 shrimp with heads on to weigh one pound; the 20-year average is 29.45 shrimp, indicating this December’s sample took 30 percent fewer shrimp to equal one pound, meaning the individual shrimp were larger than the 20-year average. (Click here to learn more about the Ecological Trawl Monitoring Survey, which collects shrimp data)
This seasonal extension is part of the Coastal Resources Division’s commitment to responsible fisheries management, balancing the long-term sustainability of Georgia's shrimp population while providing ample opportunities for both recreational enjoyment and economic benefit.
About the Coastal Resources Division
The mission of the Coastal Resources Division is to balance coastal development and protection of the coast's natural assets, socio-cultural heritage and recreational resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
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Coastal Resources Division
Georgia Department of Natural Resources