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May 28, 2010

South Carolina waters open to commercial shrimpers June 1

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will open remaining state waters to commercial shrimp trawling at 8 a.m. on June 1st. Special provisional trawl areas within state waters opened on May 25th to allow the state's commercial trawler fleet to begin limited harvesting of some this year's white shrimp that had already moved into these offshore waters.

The decision to open the shrimp trawl season comes after biologists with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sample state waters and determine that an adequate number of roe shrimp have spawned. This year's commercial opening was delayed by about two weeks in comparison to the previous four year's due to concerns over loss of a significant portion of the state's overwintering white shrimp caused by unusually cold inshore water temperatures experienced in mid-January.

According to Mel Bell, DNR's Director of Office of Fisheries Management, "Sampling this winter and spring by Marine Resources Division personnel revealed lower than average numbers of shrimp inside our estuaries, reinforcing the need for a later opening of the season. This later opening is necessary to allow for a maximum amount of spawning activity to take place from shrimp that had successfully made it through the winter. Recent sampling of near shore waters from Georgetown to Hilton Head yielded some encouraging signs that a good number of white shrimp had begun spawning by mid-May and would continue to spawn this week. Adequate spawning of white shrimp in the spring each year is essential in producing a productive commercial and recreational shrimp harvest the following fall. Spring commercial shrimp landings over the past several years have averaged around 350,000 pounds but it is still early to say what sort of results this year will bring."

Three seasons define the state's commercial shrimp fishery calendar. The first, white roe shrimp season, opens 8 a.m., June 1 in all state waters where trawling is permitted. The white roe shrimp season generates the most value for fishing effort with early season prices being relatively high. 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, carries out the remainder of the three seasons in the late summer and ends in winter.

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.


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