Recreational, Commercial Shrimp Season Closes In Georgia Waters

CRD Press Release | January 18, 2024

Georgia’s commercial and recreational food shrimp season closes at 6:20 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. The closure affects Georgia’s territorial waters three nautical miles out to sea. Federal waters three to 200 nautical miles offshore remain open.

The season’s closure means commercial shrimping, as well as recreational harvest using cast or seine nets for food shrimp, is prohibited in state waters, including beaches, creeks and all other territorial state waters. Bait shrimping in approved bait zones remains open for recreational use.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Walter Rabon used his authority to extend this year’s shrimp season beyond the statutorily set closure date of Dec. 31 to Jan. 18 after data collected by Coastal Resources Division (CRD) showed more robust than average shrimp populations.

The offshore data CRD gathered in December 2023 showed an average of 2.04 pounds of shrimp collected per 15-minute trawl, compared to the 20-year average (2003-2023) of 1.93 pounds. Additionally in December sampling, it took an average of 20.62 shrimp with heads on to weigh one pound; the 20-year average is 29.45 shrimp. This means the December’s sample took 30 percent fewer shrimp to equal one pound, meaning the individual shrimp were larger than the 20-year average.

Commercial shrimpers have until Feb. 10, 2024, to report their final landings of the season, but as of today, shrimpers have reported harvesting 2,428,098 pound of shrimp tails and earning $8,809,426. This sum represents the dockside value earned by shrimpers, not the retail revenue. These numbers will rise as commercial shrimpers make final landings reports to CRD. Complete seasonal tallies will be available likely in late March or early April.

This season saw 184 licensed shrimp trawlers in Georgia’s water, 117 of which were Georgia residents. On average, these shrimpers harvested 16.788 pounds of shrimp tails per hour spent trawling, also known as “catch per unit effort” (CPUE). This year’s is the highest CPUE CRD has recorded.

Diesel fuel prices continue to challenge Georgia’s shrimping industry, with the national average price of No. 2 diesel fuel sitting at $4.214, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Competition from farm-raised shrimp imported from other counties also continues to present a hurdle for Georgia shrimpers.

The earliest shrimp season 2024 can open by law is May 15.

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