CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has given the green light for shrimp harvesting season to fully open.
Commercial trawling is set to open in all legal state waters at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, five days later than it opened in 2021.
Typically, the shrimping season starts in mid-April with the opening of “provisional areas.” Only small portions of waterways are opened at first to allow offshore harvesting while protecting shrimp that have yet to spawn.
The opening date for shrimp season is set once SCDNR officials have determined that a majority of female white shrimp have already spawned at least once.
“This is five days later than 2021, but spawning has been just a little slower to progress compared with the past couple of years,” Mel Bell, director of SCDNR’s Office of Fisheries Management said. “The most important factor in setting the opening date is ensuring that we have an adequate white shrimp spawn to set us up for a good fall crop and fishery this year.”
According to SCDNR, the state’s commercial shrimping industry has three peak periods throughout the year. Roe white shrimp, which typically fetch higher prices, peak in the spring, brown shrimp peak in summer, and the second crop of white shrimp (the offspring of spring white shrimp) peaks in the fall.
White shrimp are short-lived species that are particularly vulnerable to cold water temperatures and unusually wet or dry summers resulting in fluctuating population sizes from year to year. If the shrimping season is opened too early, it could result in a reduced fall white shrimp crop.
“We always want to get the fleet to work as soon as possible, but not too soon from a biological standpoint,” Bell said.
Shrimp trawling season in Georgia also opens on June 1.