The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced this week that Georgia’s commercial and recreational food shrimp season will open in the state’s territorial waters at 8 a.m. June 8, 2021.
DNR Commissioner Mark Williams on May 28 signed an administrative order setting the opening date at the recommendation of DNR’s Coastal Resources Division (CRD) and an advisory panel comprised of commercial and recreational shrimpers, independent scientists, and other stakeholders.
Data collected by CRD indicate strong numbers of shrimp in coastal waters, with catches averaging well above long-term averages,” said Eddie Leonard, a CRD marine biologist who monitors shrimp populations. “Data also indicate that spawning is occurring and will likely be winding down by the time the season opens, and that average individual shrimp sizes are sufficient to satisfy the requirements of Georgia law.”
With the opening, commercial shrimp trawlers can operate in the state’s territorial waters from shore to three miles out to sea, where waters become federally managed. Trawlers may operate in state waters from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Trawlers may operate 24 hours per day in federally managed waters. All trawlers are required to use a certified bycatch reduction device and turtle excluder device in both state and federal waters.
Commercial and recreational license holders can also use cast and seine nets to harvest food shrimp. Recreational harvesters must obtain a Georgia fishing license and free Saltwater Information Program permit.
Independent of shrimp season, all motorized vessels must be at least 1,000 feet from the shores of Jekyll, St. Simons, Sea, and Tybee islands from May 1 to Sept. 30. This restriction includes personal watercraft.
During 2020’s shrimp season, 213 licensed trawlers landed approximately 3.32 million pounds of shrimp with a dockside value of $13.11 million.