Regulators decided on Monday to extend a moratorium on fishing for Maine shrimp, which scientists say are imperiled by warming waters.

Fishermen haven’t been able to catch the shrimp since 2013 and won’t be able to do so in 2016 because the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section continued the moratorium.

A committee of scientists that advises the regulators asked that the ban be extended because it said prospects for shrimp recovery are poor for the near future.

Warming New England waters will create an “increasingly inhospitable” environment for the shrimp, according to a committee report.

“Ocean temperatures in western Gulf of Maine shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade and reached unprecedented highs in the past several years,” the report says. Strong conservation efforts are needed to rebuild population, it says.

The shrimp were previously sought by commercial fishermen from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, though the vast majority of the shrimp were caught off of Maine. They were a popular winter item at fish markets and a reliable source of income for lobstermen during the slower cold weather months.


New England fishermen caught more than 13 million pounds of the shrimp in 2010, when the fishery was worth more than $7 million. The fishery declined to less than 700,000 pounds in 2013, and regulators then shut it down.

Fisherman Joe Leask, who formerly fished for shrimp off of Portland, said he prefers a short season to no season at all.

“It’s a hard time of year for fishermen – something like that would take a lot of pressure off of them,” he said.

The shrimp board met Monday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to decide what to do.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources will meet with fishermen next year to discuss potential future management measures for the fishery, a department spokesman said.

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