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Maine Coastal News FREE Shrimp Season Closed & Other Commercial Fishing News

ASMFC Northern Shrimp Section Establishes

Moratorium for 2014 Fishing Season

PORTLAND, ME – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section approved a moratorium for the 2014 northern shrimp fi shing season. The results of the 2013 Assessment Report for Gulf of Maine Northern Shrimp indicate the northern shrimp stock is overfi shed and overfi shing is occurring. Northern shrimp abundance in the western Gulf of Maine has declined steadily since 2006. Current bio- mass (500 mt) is the lowest value in recent history, estimated at 5.2% for the biomass reference period (1985-1994), and well be- low the biomass threshold of 9,000 mt and the biomass limit of 6,000 mt. Additionally, there has been recruitment failure for the past three years. The Northern Shrimp Tech- nical Committee considers the stock to have collapsed with little prospect of recovery in the near future.

“Given the overwhelming evidence of recruitment failure and stock collapse, and continuing unfavorable environmental conditions, the Section felt it was neces- sary to close the 2014 fi shery to protect the remaining spawning biomass and allow as much hatch to take place as possible,” stated Northern Shrimp Section Chair Terry Stockwell of Maine. “When environmental conditions are poor, the ability of the stock to withstand fi shing pressure is reduced. With


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the stock at all time lows and only failed year classes to come, there is even greater loss of resilience for this stock.”

The 2013 season, which was classifi ed as a “do no harm” fi shery, still resulted in a fi shing mortality rate (0.53) above the target (0.48). This was despite the fact that only 49% of the total allowable catch was harvested (307 mt of 625 mt). Since the fi shery targets 4- and 5- year old females, the 2013 fi shery targeted the 2008 and 2009 year classes. Projecting this forward, the 2014 fi shery would fi sh on the 2009 and 2010 year classes, with the 2010 year class rep- resenting the fi rst year of failed recruitment in the fi shery. The Section noted that due to this recruitment failure, it is possible that the moratorium could extend beyond one year. In the Gulf of Maine, increasing water temperatures and a decline in phytoplankton abundance (a food source for shrimp) are factors which likely have and will continue to contribute to the poor recruitment in the stock. The increased abundance of northern shrimp predators (spiny dogfi sh, redfi sh and silver hake) may play a role in declining biomass. Northern shrimp stocks in other areas of the world (Greenland, Flemish Cap, Grand Banks) have also seen decreasing trends in abundance and recruitment, pro- viding additional evidence that environmen- tal conditions are impacting northern shrimp across their range. The 2013 Assessment Report for Gulf

of Maine Northern Shrimp is available at 528fa8f12013NorthernShrimpAssessment. pdf. The benchmark stock assessment is scheduled to be peer reviewed January 27- 31, 2014. This assessment uses a new model which incorporates additional data sets that are not included in the stock assessment update. Once the benchmark assessment has been reviewed by a panel of independent ex- perts through the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Review Committee, the Section will consider the report for management use. The northern shrimp fi shery is jointly regulated by Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts through the Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section. The cooperative management program has been in place since 1972 and is currently managed under Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Northern Shrimp. For more information, please contact Marin Hawk, FMP Coordinator, at 703.842.0740 or <>.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announces the release of the Proceedings of the 2013 Black Sea Bass Ageing Workshop. The report is number seven in a series of Commission reports that document fi sh ageing techniques and seek to improve consistency in the collection and processing of ageing samples across all relevant state, federal and academic labo-

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ratories on the Atlantic coast. Fish age and growth data are key components of stock assessments that improve our understanding of species’ population dynamics. With age samples being collected, processed, and read by scientists at several institutions ev- ery year, it is important to ensure all ageing labs follow consistent protocols. The latest report summarizes the pro- ceedings of a July 2013 workshop, which brought together fi shery scientists from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Massa- chusetts Department of Marine Fisheries, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, to explore current ageing techniques for black sea bass and evaluate the consistency of age data available for future stock assessments of the northern stock unit (Maine – Cape Hatteras, North Carolina).

The workshop was held in response to the recommendations of the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Review Com- mittee following its peer review of the 2011 black sea bass benchmark assessment. In particular, the Committee identifi ed the lack of suffi cient ageing data to allow for the use of a more robust stock assessment model in the black sea bass assessment. The

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