PHIPPSBURG

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has cut the allowable catch of shrimp landed from Maine waters.

After reviewing early-season landings reports for the shrimp trawl fishery and gathering input from shrimp trappers, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher announced Friday his department has established “measures to ensure that each fishery remain within its established quota,” according to a news release.

The quota for the Maine shrimp season is 625 metric tons — a 72 percent reduction from last year. Trawlers are allowed to land 87 percent of the total; trappers are allowed 13 percent, the news release said.

Each fishery will close when 85 percent of its total allowable catch is projected to be reached, Keliher said.

For trawlers, Keliher eliminated the sunrise-to-3-p.m. time-of-day restriction established for the first two weeks of the fishery, allowing shrimpers to fish 24 hours a day for the two days a week allowed, Monday and Wednesday.

Keliher also reduced the daily limit for shrimp trappers — from 800 pounds per day established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in December, to 500 pounds per day.

The trap season begins today. Trappers are allowed to haul Monday through Saturday, four hours a day.

Proctor Wells, a shrimp fisherman from Phippsburg, said Monday he understands the DMR action, but questions the time restrictions.

“I think there’s not a lot of shrimp to catch,” Wells said, following a poor catch on Monday. “But I hate being told what days I can go out. That puts people’s lives in danger. Guys are hungry. If there’s a gale warning, they’ll go out and try to scratch up a dollar because that’s what they need to do.”

Wells said he caught few shrimp Monday morning on choppy waters.

“I understand the numbers,” he said. “It makes perfect sense. The shrimp count is way up in Nova Scotia, where the water is colder.”

Keliher said in the news release he will “continue to closely monitor landings and issue notices of change to hours if needed.”

He said he made the decision to control the catch through daily landing limits after hearing from industry members during a public listening session Friday in Wiscasset.

Industry members made it clear to the commissioner that lowering the number of landing days would be problematic because fishermen would either lose fishing days or might have to fish in dangerous conditions when the weather is bad.

For more information, visit http://www.maine.gov/dmr/i ndex.htm or call Chris Vonderweidt at 624-6558.



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