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January 22, 2008

Commercial shrimp season closes Jan. 23

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources closes the South Carolina commercial shrimping season in state waters on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7 p.m.

The state’s legal trawling zone opened for commercial shrimp trawling last May 23rd. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has various measures to determine season opening and closing dates. According to Mel Bell, Director of the DNR's Office of Fisheries Management, "The season closure is based on numerous factors including water temperature, predicted weather patterns, DNR trawl survey information, landings data, economics of the fishery and ongoing discussions with trawl operators." Typically, analysis of these factors results in the closure of the commercial shrimp trawl season around the middle of January each year.

Three seasons define the commercial shrimp fishery calendar. The first, white roe shrimp season, opens in the spring when the DNR has judged that an ample quantity of these shrimp have had an opportunity to spawn. The brown shrimp season typically occurs during the summer months, and the larger fall white shrimp season, composed of offspring from the spring roe crop concludes the remainder of the three seasons in the fall.

DNR Biologists perform periodic sampling of the shrimp population throughout the year, and have observed that many coastal areas had good catches of spring white roe shrimp this season. The summer brown shrimp catches in 2007 varied widely from area to area with an overall poor crop. According to DNR Biologist Larry DeLancey, "Catches of white shrimp in late fall were good in areas south of Charleston, and somewhat below average near Charleston north, but size was above average in these areas, perhaps reflective of good growing conditions and saltier waters because of drought conditions." Other than the good catches of fall white shrimp in the southern third of the coast and further north off of Bulls and Winyah Bays, both DNR sampling and commercial reporting indicated numbers of shrimp overall were below the long term average.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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