Though the 2012 shrimp season began at the end of May with expectations of great abundance based on a coast-wide trawl survey, the poor catches of the last two months have led the Shrimp Advisory Council to call for a close of the season at the end of December. Though the food shrimp season automatically closes on Dec. 31 unless the season is extended by the Commissioner of Natural Resources, this is the earlist close date in 12 years.
According to John Burke of SavannahNow.com, the rivers and creeks along the Georgia Coast show abundance of shrimp from the first weeks in July throughout the remainder of the year. "That didn’t happen this year and no one yet knows the reason or reasons why." He suggests that black gill, a protozoan that affects shrimp, might be the culprit as there have been reports by fishermen since mid-summer.
“It’s very uncommon for our Shrimp Advisory Panel to reach such a clear consensus on season openings and closures,” said Patrick Geer, chief of marine fisheries in a press release dated Dec. 21. “However, given the poor catches observed the last two months, the members felt strongly that extending the season was not prudent. Given the results of our independent trawl survey, the department was in full agreement with allowing the season to close at the end of December.”
Based on this recommendation, Commissioner Mark Williams has announced that the season will close at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 and includes all food shrimp harvesting activities.