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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

May 3, 2012

Commercial shrimp trawling season to open May 7

The commercial shrimp trawling season will open in South Carolina state waters within the General Trawl Zone (GTZ) at 8 a.m. Monday, May 7.

The shrimp season normally opens in mid to late May after the peak spawning period of white shrimp, but this year has been atypical according to Mel Bell, S.C. Department of Natural Resources Director of Office of Fisheries Management, "This is the earliest we have chosen to open the entire GTZ to trawling since 1974, but these are also the warmest coastal water temperatures during this time of year we have experienced since 1974. We are hoping for good spring landings of white shrimp and an improved follow-on crop of white shrimp in the fall."

DNR surveys indicate that white shrimp stocks were below average in 2011, due to cold temperatures in winter depleting the spawning stock. Conditions in the 1990s were more conducive to good shrimp production, with adequate rainfall in most years, whereas drought conditions have been more prevalent in the past decade.

Total landings for shrimp during the 2011 season, measured heads-off, was just over 1.5 million pounds. Total landings during the 2010 season was over 2.5 million pounds. The numbers of licensed shrimp trawlers to-date this season is 442.

DNR conducts shrimp resource assessments in a number of ways, including dependent and independent monitoring. This allows for fisheries biologists and managers to analyze the resource from trawls conducted by DNR biologists as well as commercial trawlers.

Three seasons define the state's commercial shrimp fishery calendar. The first, white roe shrimp season, opens 8 a.m., May 7 in all state waters where trawling is permitted. The white roe shrimp season generates the most value for fishing effort with early season prices being relatively high. 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 late summer and ends in winter.

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