2017 Northern Shrimp Cooperative Winter Sampling Program
Ten shrimp trawlers and five trappers collected northern shrimp samples along the Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts coasts, between mid- to late January and mid- to late March, 2017. The experimental fishery, coordinated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, was designed to provide biological data on the shrimp fishery, which was closed for the fourth year in a row. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Northern Shrimp Section approved a research fishery (RSA) of up to 53 mt (116,000 lbs) for the project.
The purpose of the project was to collect northern shrimp samples during the winter period when the shrimp are in inshore waters, to collect data on the timing of the egg hatch, and the size, gender, and developmental stage of the shrimp, and to collect data on the performance of compound size-sorting grates.
The selected particpants from Maine were announced Dec. 29, 2016.
Trawlers collected shrimp samples from New Hampshire (one vessel), Massachusetts (one vessel), and three regions of the Maine coast (three vessels in Western ME, three in Mid-coast ME, and two in Eastern ME), fishing once a week for eight weeks. The NH, MA, and western ME trawlers began the week of January 16 and finished during the week of March 6. The mid-coast and eastern trawlers began the week of January 30 and finished during the week of March 20. Each participant was required to collect samples each week in one region, and was allowed to land and sell up to 1,200 pounds of shrimp per trip. All trawlers participated in a compound grate study.
In addition, five shrimp trappers collected northern shrimp samples in two regions of the Maine coast (four vessels in Mid-coast ME, and one in Eastern ME), beginning January 30, 2017, once a week, for eight weeks until March 26. Each trapper was allowed to fish up to 40 traps, hauled as often as necessary during the project. Participants were allowed to land and sell up to 500 pounds of shrimp per week.
- Final Report on the 2017 Winter Sampling Project (PDF file, 32 pages, 2.2 MB)
The 15 boats caught a total of 32.5 mt, or 62% of the 53 mt RSA, 164 trawl and 36 trap samples were collected and evaluated for shrimp size and sex-stage, and the timing of egg hatch was estimated. Catches comprised mostly assumed 4-year-old female shrimp from the 2013 year class. The estimated time of 50% egg hatch was about February 21, 2017, which was earlier than the previous three years.
- The final report on the compound grate study is not finished yet, but preliminary results suggest the grate was successful in excluding about 25% of small shrimp from trawl catches without a significant loss of larger shrimp.