BRUNSWICK — Georgia’s food shrimp harvest season will be extended until 6:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, DNR Commissioner Mark Williams announced last week.
Commercial food shrimp trawlers may continue to operate in waters eastward of the sound-beach boundary currently open to power-drawn trawls. Commercial and recreational cast netters, as well as people using a beach seine, can harvest food shrimp from waters open to the use of these gears.
"Our coast-wide trawl survey showed shrimp abundance in the coastal waters of Georgia to be only slightly below the long-term average," said Lindsey Aubart, marine biologist with the Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division.
The department typically extends food shrimp season beyond the usual Dec. 31 closing, unless environmental conditions such as abnormally cold weather or lower-than-normal shrimp abundance makes such an extension unadvisable.
Thus far, water temperatures and salinities in Georgia’s estuaries are within normal ranges when compared to long-term averages, Aubart said. The decision to extend the food shrimp season was made in consultation with members of the Shrimp Advisory Panel and can be altered if emergency circumstances warrant.
To date, 216 trawler licenses and 15 cast net licenses have been issued for the 2017-18 license year. Trawler licenses sales are 10 percent below the 10-year average while castnet license sales continue to be well below the 200 license limit, Aubaret said. Data collected via the Georgia trip ticket program indicate that 2017 ex-vessel prices are very similar to prior year’s values.
However, prices were exceptionally high in 2015. The 2017 average price per pound is $4.39 which is 3 percent lower than the 5-year average of $4.54.
For more information on the extension of food shrimp season, call the Coastal Resources Division office at 912-264-7218.