Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams today announced that Georgia waters will open for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Effective that date, commercial food shrimp trawlers can operate in Georgia’s territorial waters open to power-drawn trawls.
The opening also allows commercial and recreational cast netters, as well as persons using a beach seine, to harvest food shrimp.
DNR marine biologist Eddie Leonard said June 10 was chosen using data collected by the Coastal Resources Division’s Ecological Trawl Monitoring Survey. The survey showed generally normal shrimp populations.
“The data collected through DNR’s Ecological Monitoring Trawl Survey show that Georgia shrimp numbers are very close to long term averages, but with lots of females at late stages of reproductive development still in the creeks and estuaries,” Leonard said. “We feel it prudent to give these females a couple of more weeks to move into nearshore waters and spawn before opening the food shrimp season. An opening of June 10 makes sense biologically and will put us in line with historical opening dates.”
Once the season opens, commercial harvest of food shrimp with power-drawn trawls in state waters is allowed from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) are open for food shrimp harvest 24 hours a day. Trawler operators must use certified Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) and Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) while operating in both state and federal waters. Trawl fishermen should watch for further advisories on BRD and TED requirements issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Trawler operators are also reminded there is a 1,000-foot “Boating Safety Zone” along the beaches of Tybee, St. Simons, Jekyll and Sea Islands from May 1 through September 30. Motorized craft, both recreational and commercial — including personal watercraft — are prohibited in these zones during this period.