Northern Shrimp Benchmark Assessment Indicates Resource Continues to be Depleted - Section Approves Draft Addendum I for Public Comment

Portland, ME - The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Northern Shrimp Section (Section) reviewed the results of the 2018 Northern Shrimp Benchmark Stock Assessment, which indicate the population remains depleted, with spawning stock biomass (SSB) at extremely low levels since 2013. SSB in 2017 was estimated at 1.7 million pounds, well below the time series average of 7.9 million pounds. In addition, recruitment continues to be low, with values in 2017 estimated at 1.13 billion shrimp, less than half of the time series median of 2.63 billion shrimp. Variability in recruitment has increased since 2000, with higher highs and lower lows in recruitment deviations than in previous years (1984-1999). Fishing mortality has been very low in recent years due to the moratorium.

The Section accepted the assessment for management use based on the endorsement of the assessment by the peer review panel. Three models were investigated in the stock assessment, with the preferred model being a statistical catch-at-length model developed by the University of Maine. This model divides the northern shrimp stock into size groups and tracks changes in the proportion of shrimp in each size group across seasons and years to estimate fishing mortality and population size. Fishery-independent data incorporated into the model includes the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Trawl Survey and the Gulf of Maine Northern Shrimp Summer Survey. Fishery-dependent data was also included through commercial landings and the winter sampling program.

Ocean temperature has an important influence on northern shrimp life cycle, including the timing of hatch and early life survival. Warmer water temperatures are generally associated with lower recruitment indices and poorer survival during the first year of life. Ocean temperatures in the western Gulf of Maine shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade, and temperature is predicted to continue rising as a result of climate change. This suggests an increasingly inhospitable environment for northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine.

The Benchmark Stock Assessment and Peer Review Report, as well as the Stock Assessment Overview, which is intended to aid media and interested stakeholders in better understanding the Commission's stock assessment results and process, will be available by mid-October on the Commission website, on the Northern Shrimp webpage under stock assessment reports.

The Section also approved Draft Addendum I for public comment. The Draft Addendum proposes providing states the authority to allocate their state-specific quota between gear types in the event the fishery reopens. The Draft Addendum is available online and can also be accessed on the Commission website under Public Input . Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on Draft Addendum I either by attending a public hearing (a subsequent press release will announce the details of the state hearings) or providing written comment. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM on November 7, 2018 and should be forwarded to Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at 1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200A-N, Arlington, VA, 22201; 703.842.07401 (fax); or by email. (Subject line: Northern Shrimp).

The Section and its Advisory Panel will be meeting November 15-16, 2018. At this meeting, the Section will consider final action on Addendum I and set 2019 specifications. Information regarding the date and location of the November meeting will be provided, when available, in a subsequent press release.

For more information, please contact Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, by email or 703.842.0740.