Interstate fishing regulators are revisiting the possibility of reopening Maine’s shrimp fishery, now in its third year of a shutdown since warming oceans have negatively affected the shrimp population.

Maine shrimp were once a popular seafood item in New England, where diners looked forward to the sweet, pinkish shrimp every winter. But regulators shut the fishery down at the end of 2013 when the catch cratered. Warming ocean temperatures are inhospitable for the shrimp, and make it difficult for their populations to recover, scientists have said.

Fishery managers with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are opening up the possibility of new regulations to manage the fishery. Fishery Management Plan Coordinator Max Appelman said new regulations would address issues such as overfishing.

“The big challenges facing this resource are overcapacity in the fishery and overcoming adverse effects of climate change,” Appelman said.

The new regulations could also take the form of state-by-state quotas, new reporting methods and mandatory use of specific kinds of fishing gear, Appelman said. The new regulations would be part of an amendment that the fisheries commission is working on. A draft amendment is to be presented to the commission’s shrimp board in the winter.

New regulations in the shrimp fishery would not likely apply until the 2018 season at the earliest. Regulators must first vote on whether to extend the moratorium on shrimp fishing into 2017.

Fishermen sought the shrimp in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire when the fishery was open. The shrimp are also harvested in Canada, which then exports them to the U.S.

Some fishermen have said closing the shrimp fishery presented a hardship for the industry because the fishery was a reliable source of winter income. David Goethel, a New Hampshire fisherman who formerly harvested shrimp, said it’s one of many factors putting fishermen on “a collision course with zero income.”


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