CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. – Commercial shrimp trawling opened in all legal South Carolina waters Wednesday morning. Hopes are much higher for this year to bring a plentiful harvest after a disappointing 2018.
January 2018 brought an unusually cold period that killed a majority of white shrimp in South Carolina waters. This delayed the opening of shrimp season to mid-June instead of the usual opening of around mid- to late- May.
“The lack of any commercial shrimp landings from our waters at the beginning of 2018 resulted in enough economic loss to allow the state to apply for a declaration of a failed fishery from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce,” said Mel Bell, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Office of Fisheries Management.
White shrimp are short-lived species that are very vulnerable to cold water temperatures and unusually wet or dry summers. This leads to fluctuating numbers in their population from year to year. They are also prolific spawners, so their populations can quickly rebound even after a poor season.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, white shrimp numbers appear to have returned to at least the ten-year average. This could lead to a, potentially, better season for the state’s commercial fishery.