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Shrimp season starts June 10
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Special to the Courier

BRUNSWICK — Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Noel Holcomb has announced that Georgia waters will open for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 6 a.m. on June 10.
Effective this date, commercial food shrimp trawlers can operate in Georgia’s territorial waters open to power-drawn trawls. Commercial and recreational cast netters, as well as people using a beach seine can harvest food shrimp from waters open to the use of these gears.   
All commercial harvest of food shrimp is restricted to a period from 30 minutes prior to sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) are open for food shrimp harvest throughout the day and night. Trawler operators are reminded that they must have approved bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices in their trawls while operating in both state and federal waters. Trawl fishermen should watch for further advisories on BRD and TED requirements issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
DNR conservation rangers, the U.S. Coast Guard and agents of NMFS will enforce BRD and TED requirements.
Shrimp trawl operators are also reminded of the 1,000-foot boating safety zone along the beaches of Tybee Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. These zones are in effect from May 1 through Sept. 30. Motorized craft, both recreational and commercial and including personal watercraft, are prohibited in these zones during this period.
Recreational and commercial cast net fishermen can still use nets with a 1/2-inch or larger mesh until March 1, 2009, when the minimum mesh size will be increased to 5/8-inch.
According to Pat Geer, Coastal Resources Division Research and Surveys Program supervisor, “Catches of white shrimp in coast-wide scientific surveys have been below average since July 2007. We believe it’s prudent to open the season during the second week of June in order to maximize white shrimp spawning potential.”
He said the surveys also indicate that brown shrimp are just beginning to appear in the lower estuary and should reach peak abundance on the trawling grounds in July and August.
Call Coastal Resources Division at (912) 264-7218 for information on the opening of food shrimp harvest season.  Contact NMFS Protected Resources Division at (727) 824-5312 for information on federal requirements for shrimp trawls.
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