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#06-139 May 22, 2006

South Carolina waters open to commercial shrimpers May 18

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources opened state waters to commercial shrimp trawling 7 a.m. Thursday, May 18.

The decision to open the season comes after biologists with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sample state waters and determine that an adequate number of roe shrimp have spawned.

According to David Whitaker, assistant deputy director of the DNR’s Marine Resources Division, “AShrimp trawler relatively mild winter resulted in the excellent survival of over-wintering white shrimp, and the Marine Division has documented above-average quantities of white roe shrimp this season. In the last three weeks, we have sampled near-shore waters and confirmed that quantities of spawning white shrimp are very good.”

Three seasons define the commercial shrimp calendar. The first, white roe shrimp season, opens 7 a.m. Thursday, May 18. The brown shrimp season typically occurs during the summer months, and the larger fall white shrimp season, composed of offspring from the spring roe crop, carries out the remainder of the three seasons in the fall. 

“The relatively large volume of shrimp in combination with the spawning activity indicates that there has been spawning that is adequate to stock the state’s waters for the larger fall white shrimp harvest,” Whitaker said. “If we have reasonable rainfall this July and August, we should have a very good fall harvest.” Rainfall has been correlated with increases in shrimp populations, and rain influences shrimp to move out onto commercial shrimping grounds in the ocean where they can be caught.

The DNR estimates that high fuel prices may result in a slight decrease in fishing effort and contribute to lower landings totals this year. Total landings for shrimp in 2005, which are measured heads-off, was just over two million pounds. 

The DNR’s Law Enforcement Division reminds the public of Coast Watch, which was developed to better help citizens report violations of recreational/commercial fishing laws, as well as marine environmental laws. The toll-free Coast Watch hotline number, 1-800-922-5431, is available 24 hours a day.
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