PORTLAND — Fishermen are taking to the waters with the kickoff of New England’s annual shrimp season.

The northern shrimp season runs from today through April 15. The 136-day season is down from 180 days last year.

Fishermen from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts last year netted more than 12 million pounds of shrimp, the best season since 1997. Regulators shut the season down early last year because the catch exceeded the maximum harvest recommended by scientists.

Regulators this season have capped the harvest at 8.8 million pounds.

Northern shrimp provide a small but valuable fishery to the New England fishing fleet. Last year 230 boats took part, with 209 of those coming from Maine.