Right now it looks like if you are craving wild domestic shrimp you could be out of luck. Earlier in the summer gulf shrimp operations were postponed by a couple of weeks which lead to higher prices than usual for wild gulf shrimp. The season has finally gotten under way, but product has been slow to come to market. Now another wild U.S. shrimp industry, the sweet Maine pink shrimp, could be in jeopardy. Most of us who look forward to the winter months when these domestic, sweet shrimp become available may be in for heartbreak as the initial stock analysis looks forebodingly low.
Many fishermen who rely on the Maine shrimp harvest for winter paychecks could be out of luck. There are recommendations that the season be shut down due to the low numbers of harvestable shrimp, which has not happened since 1978, and I agree. Last year shrimpers operated with a quota that was cut by 70% and still the stock did not rebound. Though I believe that warmer ocean temperatures are the main culprit, I believe that we have to give the species the best chance to survive, even if that means pulling our gear out of the water. Maine shrimp are a wonderful resource and provide winter money for many families, but their value as a species in the marine ecosystem and our respect for that environment should far outweigh their usefulness as a traded commodity.
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