Virginia could open a small commercial shrimp fishery off Virginia Beach, after a four-year experiment showed it is ecologically sustainable and commercially viable.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission plans to hold a public hearing July 27 to consider proposed regulations to allow trawling for shrimp. Unlike the shrimpers operating to the south, Virginia fishermen would be allowed to tow only small nets, to reduce the chance of trapping too many other species.
“This will be a small-boat, small-gear fishery,” Pat Geer, VMRC’s Fisheries Management Division chief told the commission in a recent briefing.
While shrimp have been seen in Virginia waters for years, fishermen began reporting large numbers of them in 2017.
Warmer ocean temperatures and changes in currents that resulted have pushed larval shrimp north from North Carolina — and in recent years, North Carolina shrimpers have been working along the state line.
The eight fishermen who harvested shrimp last year caught 418,616 pounds of shrimp, VMRC data shows.
400,000 lbs seems like a lot of shrimp, but Virginia's annual crab harvest is about 20-30 million metric tons, or about 40 - 60 billion lbs. Somebody is eating most of my share of the crab.
Shrimp have been here as long as I've been here, but not in great numbers.