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May 10, 2004
Gulf Shrimp Season To Close May 15
AUSTIN, Texas—The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both state and federal waters will close 30 minutes after sunset on May 15 until an unspecified time in July.
The closing date is based on samples collected by the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department using trawl, bag seine and other information gathered from the shrimping industry. Data regarding TPWD brown shrimp bag seine catch rates, mean lengths of shrimp in April 2004, percent of samples containing shrimp, and periods of maximum nocturnal ebb tidal flow indicate a May 15 closing date is appropriate. Typically, once the shrimp reach about 3 1/2 inches long, they begin their migration back to the Gulf of Mexico.
"The closure is designed to allow these small shrimp to grow to a larger, more valuable size before they are vulnerable to harvest," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., and TPWD coastal fisheries division director. "The goal is to achieve optimum benefits for the shrimping industry while providing proper management to protect the shrimp." The Texas closure applies to Gulf waters from the coast out to nine nautical miles. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced federal waters out to 200 nautical miles also will be closed to conform to the Texas closure.
While the statutory opening date for the Gulf season is July 15, the Coastal Fisheries Division will be sampling shrimp populations to determine the optimum opening date for both the shrimp and the shrimpers. No announcement will be made concerning the re-opening until June data are collected.
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