ASMFC Extends Moratorium on Fishing Northern Shrimp


Portsmouth, NH – In response to the depleted condition of the northern shrimp resource, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section extended the moratorium on commercial fishing for the 2017 fishing season. The Section also approved a 53 metric ton (mt) research set aside (RSA) to allow for the continued collection of much needed biological data.

The 2016 Stock Status Report for Gulf of Maine (GOM) Northern Shrimp indicates abundance and biomass indices for 2012–2016 are the lowest on record of the thirty-three year time series. Recruitment indices for the 2010–2015 year classes are also poor and include the three smallest year classes on record. As a result, the 2012–2016 indices of harvestable biomass are the lowest on record. Current harvestable biomass is almost entirely composed of the 2013 year class.

“By increasing the 2017 RSA, which is above last year’s 22 mt quota and that recommended by the Technical Committee for 2017 (13.6 mt), the Section sought to strike a balance between providing limited fishing opportunities to the industry while collecting valuable data to allow for the continued monitoring of the northern shrimp resource,” stated Section Chair Dennis Abbott of New Hampshire.

Recruitment of northern shrimp is related to both spawning biomass and ocean temperatures, with higher spawning biomass and colder temperatures producing stronger recruitment. Ocean temperatures in western GOM shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade and reached unprecedented highs within the past several years. This suggests an increasingly inhospitable environment for northern shrimp and the need for strong conservation efforts to help restore and maintain a fishable stock. The Northern Shrimp Technical Committee considers the stock to be in poor condition with limited prospects for the near future. The 2016 Stock Status Report is available at

To maintain the time series of data collected from northern shrimp commercial fishery catches, a cooperative winter sampling program was approved with a 53 mt RSA quota. This program allows for the continued collection of biological data (e.g. size composition, egg hatch timing) from GOM northern shrimp fishery catches in the absence of a directed fishery. The RSA will include the participation of 10 trawlers (8 Maine trawlers, 1 Massachusetts trawler, and 1 New Hampshire trawler) and 5 trap fishermen, fishing for 8 weeks from mid-January to mid-March. The trawlers will have a maximum trip limit of 1,200 pounds per trip, with 1 trip per week, while the trappers will have a maximum possession limit of 500 pounds per week, with a 40 trap limit per vessel. Preference will be given to individuals in the lottery with double Nordmore grates and having history prior to the June 7, 2011 control date.