PORTLAND — Fisheries regulators are closing the northern shrimp season three weeks early because fishermen in the Gulf of Maine have exceeded the recommended catch.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section took emergency action today to close the season at 11:59 p.m. on May 5. The season was supposed to continue to May 29.

Officials say preliminary data indicates fishermen in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts surpassed the recommended maximum of 4,900 metric tons by nearly 60 metric tons and would have exceeded 5,700 tons if allowed to continue through month’s end.

Section Chair Douglas Grout from New Hampshire says the action protects smaller shrimp that will be more valuable to the fishery in future years.