The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has notified commercial shrimpers that state waters will open to commercial shrimp trawling at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15.
The South Carolina and Georgia commercial shrimp trawling seasons will open simultaneously again this year. "This concurrent opening distributes the trawling effort between the two states on opening day, reducing the crowding of boats in any one area," said David Whitaker with the Marine Resources Division of S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
The shrimp season normally opens in late May or early June after the peak spawning period of white shrimp.
"This year's opening date is delayed a few days because of the relatively cool spring water temperatures we have observed and because numbers of spawners are a little below average," Whitaker said. "Water temperature has been running about two or three weeks behind normal for much of the spring." The overall catch of "roe white shrimp" by the commercial shrimpers will be well below average this year, but DNR marine biologists believe that the quantities of the prolifically spawning shrimp are adequate to produce a potentially average to above-average fall harvest.
A good shrimp spawn, combined with average to slightly above average rainfall during July and August, contributes to an increased number of shrimp caught by commercial and recreational shrimpers during the fall. Rainfall has been correlated with increases in shrimp populations, and rain influences shrimp to move out onto commercial shrimping grounds in the ocean where they can be caught.
The spring white roe shrimp season is followed by catches of brown shrimp during the summer months. "Initial estimates of the brown shrimp in the central part of the state indicate their population is below average," said DNR marine biologist Larry DeLancey. "Brown shrimp postlarvae enter the coastal marshes in March and grow as water temperature increases. This spring, cool weather has delayed growth of these shrimp. Some brown shrimp should reach a harvestable size in the next couple of weeks"
The DNR's Law Enforcement Division reminds the public of Coast Watch, which was developed to better help citizens report violations of recreational/commercial fishing laws, as well as marine environmental laws. The Coast Watch hotline number (1-800-922-5431) is toll-free and available 24 hours a day.