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Friday, March 20, 2015

20/03/2015: VIDEO: Fishermen, biologists team up to study dwindling shrimp population

Maine's shrimp industry is worse than it's been in decades.
 
Marine managers banned shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine both last year and this year and Maine state biologists are not optimistic about next year, WMTW News 8 reports

The Department of Marine Resources is working with local fishermen to collect shrimp samples in an effort to figure out why the shrimp population is so low.
Tuesday morning, South Bristol fisherman Arnie Gamage went out on his last trip to collect shrimp for state scientists.


WMTW News 8 reporter Paul Merrill went out with Gamage on that trip.


 Mr Gamage estimates he brought in 60 or 70 pounds of shrimp, but he says that's not an indication that there are plenty of shrimp in the Gulf of Maine.

"You really can't judge what's going on because there's nobody else here. There's no competition," Mr Gamage said.

Mr Gamage is one of five trappers who has special permission from the state to harvest shrimp.

He's not allowed to sell any of the shrimp.

Maggie Hunter is one of the biologists at the Department of Marine Resources in Boothbay Harbor who studies samples that fishermen like Mr Gamage collect.
Ms Hunter believes that climate change is responsible for the lack of shrimp in the Gulf of Maine.

"The water temperatures have been getting warmer and the shrimp that we have here in the Gulf of Maine are an arctic/sub-arctic species, and this is the furthest south that you'll find them so, as you might suspect, they're vulnerable to increases in temperature," Ms Hunter said.

She believes the large size of the shrimp she's seen means that there is still a lack of younger shrimp in the waters off Maine.

"I'm not very hopeful about next year's season but maybe after that things will look better," Ms Hunter said.

Mr Gamage believes that both warmer water temperatures and over-fishing have both contributed to the low shrimp population.

Unlike Ms Hunter, Mr Gamage is optimistic about next year.

"I've told everybody we're right where we want to be for the state of Maine. The snowmobilers are happy. The ski areas are happy, and the shrimp fishermen are happy that we got a cold winter, and we've got some shrimp spawning in shore in the Gulf of Maine and the fishery's going to come back. I'm sure of that now," said Mr Gamage.


Watch the video HERE.


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