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New England shrimp industry should not restart, experts say

December 2, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A group of experts is recommending to keep New England’s shrimp fishing industry closed down because of concerns about the health of the population.

The industry has been shut down since 2013. Scientists have said the shrimp are in jeopardy in part because of the warming of waters off New England. A board of the regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is slated to vote Dec. 17 on whether to reopen fishing.

The board relies on a recommendation from a technical committee made up of scientists, regulators and other experts. A report released by the committee on Thursday recommended the board keep the fishing moratorium in place.

The report from the technical committee said that it makes sense to keep the fishery closed because of the “poor condition of the resource, the extremely low likelihood of being able to fish sustainably, and the value of maximizing spawning potential to rebuild the stock if environmental conditions improve.”

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The board last voted to extend the existing moratorium on commercial fishing of the shrimp in 2018.

The industry was a winter fishery based mostly in Maine. Maine fishermen harvested more than 10 million pounds of the shrimp per year as recently as 2011. The catch fell to less than 5 million pounds in 2012 and less than 600,000 pounds in 2013, when the moratorium took effect.