Commissioner Mark Williams has announced that Georgia waters will open for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 8:00 am on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Effective that date, commercial food shrimp trawlers can operate in Georgia’s territorial waters open to power-drawn trawls. Commercial and recreational cast netters, as well as persons using a beach seine, can harvest food shrimp from waters open to the use of these gears.
“The white shrimp abundance in our May coast-wide trawl survey is higher compared to historic averages for the month of May,” said Lindsey Aubart, the Coastal Resources Division (CRD) biologist supervising monthly shrimp sampling. “The shrimp sizes are highly desirable to recreational harvesters and valuable to commercial fishermen. The recommendation to open on June 1 was made after taking into consideration our May survey results and input received from our Shrimp Advisory Panel.”
Once the season opens, commercial harvest of food shrimp with power-drawn trawls in state waters is allowed from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Federal waters (beyond 3 miles offshore) are open for food shrimp harvest 24 hours a day. Trawler operators must use certified Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) and Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) while operating in both state and federal waters. Trawl fishermen should watch for further advisories on BRD and TED requirements issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Trawler operators are also reminded of the 1,000-foot “Boating Safety Zone” along the beaches of Tybee Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island is in effect from May 1 through September 30. Motorized craft, both recreational and commercial, and including personal watercraft, are prohibited in these zones during this period.
Contact Coastal Resources Division at (912) 264-7218 for information on the opening of the 2017 food shrimp harvest season. Contact NMFS Protected Resources Division at (727) 824-5312 for information on federal requirements for BRDs and TEDs in shrimp trawls.