Georgia Shrimping Season Set To Close Jan. 15, Whelk Season Opens Jan. 16


The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the commercial and recreational shrimping season in state waters will close at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

Under the closure, all food shrimp harvesting activities, including trawling, cast netting and seining, will be prohibited both commercially and recreationally in Georgia’s waters. Anglers and commercial bait-shrimp dealers may continue to harvest shrimp to use as bait.

Today’s announcement comes after members of DNR’s Coastal Resources Division (CRD) consulted with the Shrimp Advisory Panel. The panel is comprised of stakeholders including commercial and recreational shrimpers, and makes recommendations to DNR about shrimping-related policy.

“The annual closure is meant to give shrimp populations the ability to remain healthy and allow for the smaller shrimp to grow to more marketable sizes,” said Carolyn Belcher, chief of the Marine Fisheries Section at CRD.

Every month year-round, a team of CRD biologists collect data about shrimp populations from 36 sites along Georgia’s 100-mile coast. Aboard the research vessel Anna, a 60-foot shrimp trawler operated by CRD, biologists net shrimp and record the amount of shrimp caught per trawl and the overall weight of the catch.

One of the important indicators to biologists is the number of individual shrimp it takes to make a pound, referred to as “count size.” When shrimp are larger, it takes fewer individuals to make a full pound. One of the benchmarks biologists use when considering closing Georgia’s waters is 50 shrimp or more making a pound. Data collected in December found it took about 38.4 shrimp to make one pound, roughly 2 percent higher than the long-term average since 1976.

In 2019, Georgia’s commercial shrimpers harvested more than 2.61 million pounds of shrimp valued at about $11.4 million. The shrimping season for 2019 opened May 29.

Whelk season to open Jan. 16

Additionally, Georgia’s whelk harvesting season will open at 7 a.m. Jan. 16, 2020, and remain open until 8:15 p.m. March 31, 2020.

Individuals possessing or fishing for whelk with trawl gear must possess all proper licenses, including a Georgia commercial fishing license with a whelk endorsement, and adhere to all gear regulations for whelk trawls, including the use of minimum 4-inch stretch mesh trawl gear and a certified turtle excluder device.

Whelk fishermen are reminded that a limit of no more than two bushels of blue crabs may be retained at any time on their vessel, regardless of the number of crew onboard. All retained blue crabs must be of legal size and sponge crabs may not be kept. Operators of whelk trawling vessels must also maintain and report records of harvested crabs. For more information on regulations associated with the whelk fishery, please call the Coastal Resources Division at 912-264-7218.

Whelk are a sea snail common along Georgia’s coast and frequently used as food. They can be found in shallow waters, including bays, beaches and estuaries. The outer shell is gray-white and tan with some dark brown streaks. The inner shell is yellow, orange or red. The darkly colored soft body includes a head, visceral mass and small foot.

The knobbed whelk has been the state shell of Georgia since 1987.

CRD is the division of DNR entrusted to manage Georgia’s coastal marshes, beaches, waters and fisheries for the benefit of present and future generations. The division strives to be an agency of knowledgeable and compassionate professionals who are trusted, respected and empowered to help the public be good stewards of Georgia’s natural assets and socio-cultural heritage. It is headquartered in Brunswick.

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Related Documents:

Shrimp Season Administrative Order (PDF)

Shrimp Season Public Notice (PDF)

Whelk Season Administrative Order (PDF)

Whelk Season Public Notice (PDF)