Shrimp hearings set

ELLSWORTH — Shrimp fishermen — the few that are left, anyway — will be able to weigh in on a proposed change to the rules governing the fishery tentatively approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Meeting in Portland earlier this month, the ASMFC’s Northern Shrimp Section approved, subject to public comment, an “addendum” to the current version of the Northern Shrimp Fishery Management Plan.

The addendum would allow each of the three states that have shrimp landings — primarily Maine but also New Hampshire and Massachusetts — to allocate their annual catch quotas between the types of gear used in the fishery.

In the last years that there was a commercial fishery — there has been a moratorium on fishing since 2013 — trawlers caught about 90 percent of shrimp landed but there was a growing trap fishery.

The ASMFC will take written comments on the rule until Wednesday, Nov. 7. Public hearings on the proposal are scheduled for 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, at the Department of Marine Resources office in Augusta and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, in Portsmouth, N.H.

The question of how to allocate an annual landings quota between gear types seems academic considering that, for the sixth year in a row, there is unlikely to be any commercial shrimp fishing season.

Earlier this month, the ASMFC shrimp section met in Portland to review the latest scientific assessment of the shrimp stock. The news was not good.

Regulators will meet Nov. 15 and 16 to take final action on the proposed rule change and to set the landings quota, if any, for the coming season, which historically has begun Dec. 1.

As of Monday morning, the location of the meeting had not been announced.


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