Due to the Southeast’s recent cold snap, federal and state waters off Georgia and South Carolina have been closed to fishing for shrimp.
Although customers at Lowcountry grocery stores and restaurants will not see any immediate effects, that could change come springtime.
South Carolina’s shrimping season usually reopens in April of May, but following cold winters in recent years, the opening was pushed back.
“Normally after cold winters, they (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources) will extend the moratorium on fishing,” said Andrew Carmines, owner of Hudson’s Seafood. “About three years ago, (the shrimp trawl season) didn’t open until mid-June. So that would affect customers in the spring, but we hope it doesn’t.”
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During this time of year, Carmines’ fishermen are getting their shrimp off the coast of Florida, but they usually return in the spring once South Carolina fisheries reopen. If state fisheries remain closed until summer, restaurants and grocery stores would be unable to stock South Carolina shrimp until then.
Shrimp are susceptible to unusually cold temperatures. And since early January, DNR staff and members of the public began reporting dead shrimp along the shores of tidal marshes and saltwater tidal lagoons across the South Carolina coast.
The purpose of both Georgia and South Carolina closures are to protect the shrimp spawning populations for those that survived.
“White shrimp are prolific spawners and can recover relatively quickly,” David Whitaker, deputy director of the SCDNR Marine Resources Division, said in a news release. “It’s too soon to assess the prospects for the 2018 fall fishery, but with some modest survival of spawning stock, it is still possible to have a relatively good fall fishery. We’ll be assessing the spawning stock over the next several months.”
Due to a prolonged period of cold water temperatures, federal waters off South Carolina closed Jan. 17.
Georgia closed its state waters to all shrimping Jan. 15 and NOAA closed offshore Georgia water on Tuesday.
Possession of brown, pink or white shrimp is prohibited on board a vessel in federal waters off South Carolina and Georgia unless the vessel is in transit through the area and all nets with a mesh size of less than four inches, as measured between the centers of opposite knots when pulled taut, are stowed below deck, according to a news release from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.