Gulf Shrimp Season Closing on Friday, May 15, 2020
May 12, 2020
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AUSTIN- The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both Texas and federal waters will close 30 minutes after sunset on Friday, May 15, 2020 until a still-to-be determined date in July.
The closing date is usually based on samples collected by the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) using trawl, bag seine and other information gathered. However, this year due to the current COVID-19 event, the closure will be based primarily on the use of periods of maximum ebb tide, or outgoing tidal movements as an indication that the usual May 15 closure date is adequate.
“The closure is designed to allow escapement of shrimp out to the gulf where they can grow to a larger, more valuable size before they are vulnerable to harvest,” said TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division Director Robin Riechers. “The goal is to provide shrimp of a size that are more valuable for the shrimping industry while ensuring sustainable stocks in the future.”
The Texas closure applies to gulf waters from the coast out to nine nautical miles. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced federal waters out to 200 nautical miles also will be closed to shrimping to conform to the Texas closure. This management strategy has been used to increase value to the fishery since 1976 and allows shrimp, an annual resource, to leave bays and estuaries, disperse and spawn, generating shrimp resources for the next year.
While the statutory opening date for the gulf season is July 15, TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division will be sampling shrimp populations to determine the optimum opening date. The date of the re-opening of gulf waters will be based on data collected in June, but the closure may not be longer than 60 days.