Over the objections of fishermen and shrimp processors, regulators decided Wednesday to shut down New England’s shrimp fishery after Friday because fishermen have reached their catch limit for this season.

As a conservation measure, fishermen were allowed to harvest no more than 4.9 million pounds of shrimp this year from the Gulf of Maine. The catch limit has probably already been exceeded, prompting regulators to shut down the fishery.

In a conference call Wednesday, regulators from Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire who serve on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s shrimp-regulating panel said it was their duty to shut down the fishery to avoid harming the shrimp population and forcing strict regulations next year.

This is the third year in a row that the catch limit has been surpassed, said Ritchie White, who represents New Hampshire on the panel.

“Just like last year, I think we’re in the area of doing damage to next year’s available shrimp,” White said.

But fishermen and processors said that shrimp stocks are in good shape and that closing down the fishery will hurt shrimp markets that processors have spent years building.


Gary Libby of Port Clyde said fishermen like him were expecting this season to last at least through February, especially when they were seeing a good amount of shrimp.

“To cut off the dealers right now, it will be the third year in a row they’ve been cut off prematurely, and that will damage the markets,” he said.

Shrimp provide a small but valuable fishery for hundreds of New England fishermen. The fleet this year has comprised 225 boats from Maine and 31 from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.


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