South Carolina shrimp season begins
SC Department of Natural Resources
The bright lights of the shrimp trawlers have been visible against the offshore horizon every night this week, which can only mean one thing – the shrimp season has fully opened in South Carolina.
The commercial shrimp trawl opened in all legal waters of South Carolina at 8 a.m. on May 27. Georgian authorities have not yet set an opening date for the trawling season in their state waters.
“After a slightly cooler start to spring, things now look pretty normal for this time of year,” said Mel Bell, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Office of Fisheries Management. “We have seen sufficient evidence of coast-wide ripening and spawning of white shrimp. This is the same date that we opened the entire season last year.
The shrimp fishing season in South Carolina typically begins in the spring with the opening of a small subset of waters, called staging areas, which allow shrimp trawlers to take advantage of the harvest offshore while protecting the sea. majority of shrimp that have not yet spawned.
The South Carolina Interim Zones opened on April 26 of this year. The remainder of the harvest area, called the general trawl area, is much larger and was fully opened on May 27.
“Given the relatively mild nature of last winter and the promising results of several months of monitoring efforts by our biologists, the abundance of white shrimp wintering in our estuarine waters should prepare us for good landings this season. “said Bell.
MNR officials set the opening date for the shrimp season each year based on the conditions of the shrimp themselves.
On board commercial vessels and agencies, biologists frequently sample and study white shrimp in late spring. One of the things they are looking for is proof that a majority of female white shrimp will have already laid eggs at least once before the start of the season.
Opening the season too early – and allowing trawlers to capture females that haven’t had a chance to spawn – could reduce the size of the fall white shrimp crop, which are the offspring of spring white shrimp.
The South Carolina shrimp trade calendar has historically had three peak periods.
In the spring, shrimp boats generally take advantage of the influx of white shrimp, the large, early-season shrimp that typically fetch the highest prices and generate the most value for the fishing effort. The summer months are usually defined by a spike in brown shrimp, which are similar in size and taste to white shrimp. In the fall and winter, shrimp boats bring back a second harvest of white shrimp, the offspring of spring prawns.
Since the white shrimp is a short-lived species that is vulnerable to cold water temperatures and unusually wet or dry summers, their numbers can fluctuate dramatically from year to year. However, they are also prolific breeders, meaning that populations can quickly rebound even after a bad year or season.