Shrimping season to close May 15

May 8, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.

The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimping season for state and federal waters is set to close 30 minutes after sunset on May 15. The waters will remain closed until an unspecified time in July, according to a news release issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The waters are being closed to give the shrimp time to grow larger before they are harvested, Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Norman Boyd said.

The closing date is based on samples collected by the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department using trawl, bag seine and other information gathered from the shrimping industry.

Data regarding TPWD brown shrimp bag seine catch rates, mean lengths of shrimp in April 2012, percent of samples containing shrimp, and periods of maximum nocturnal ebb tidal flow indicate a May 15 closing date is appropriate, according to the release. Typically, once the shrimp reach about 31/2

"The closure is designed to allow these small shrimp to grow to a larger more valuable size before they are vulnerable to harvest," said Robin Riechers, TPWD coastal fisheries division director. "The goal is to achieve optimum benefits for the shrimping industry while providing proper management to protect the shrimp."

The Texas closure applies to Gulf waters from the coast out to nine nautical miles. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced federal waters out to 200 nautical miles also will be closed to conform to the Texas closure.

While the statutory opening date for the Gulf season is July 15, TPWD's Coastal Fisheries Division will sample shrimp populations to determine the optimum opening date for both the shrimp and the shrimpers. No announcement will be made concerning the re-opening until June data are collected, according to the news release.

Boyd said this is a typical closure that occurs every year in shrimp season, but it could be a good year for shrimping from the look of the samples collected so far. However, Boyd noted that this could change before the season re-opens in July.

"Right now, it looks like it's going to be pretty good, but there's no telling what's going to happen between now and when they get to the Gulf," Boyd said.



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