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Thread: A Question for Shrimpers

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default A Question for Shrimpers

    I bought some side stripe shrimp at Sagaya's yesterday and noticed the eggs under their tails. Not for the first time, I wondered about the impact we are having on our shrimp stocks by taking these egg-laden females. What are your thoughts about the environmental impact of this? Am I concerned about a non-issue here? Or are there legitimate concerns? And please, I'm not looking for how great the eggs are to eat. I'm talking about the ecological aspect of this...

    Mike
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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Mike, this is the sort of question that would be best directed to the F&G biologists that manage the resource.
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    Mike,

    About 5 or 6 years ago during Memorial Day Weekend I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Haines and Skagway to take in the sights. Beautiful country. While I was there, I stumbled into a local fish market pretty close to the camp ground in the town of Haines along the ocean overlooking Lynn Canal, to pick up some fresh shrimp for a family meal. When I asked the shop owner/keeper for shrimp, he turned red and gave me an earfull. Appearently a few years prior, F&G had a commercial opener in the Lynn Canal during egging season, stating there were plenty of shrimp. One season was all it took to see the decline and close it down for everyone both Commercial and Personal use. He stated it would take 5-7 years to recover. He also said he sat on a board and was against the opening in the first place. He sold me some shrimp, frozen from somewhere else in Southeast Alaska. When I left, he was still red in the face and still shaking with fury! Not sure if the fishery ever recovered, maybe someone on here will chime in.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    Mike, this is the sort of question that would be best directed to the F&G biologists that manage the resource.
    Agreed, and I know a lot of the Biologists are on this site...

    -Mike
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    There really isn't a viable way to not target females. Some release egg-bearing females, but I've read speculation that the likelihood of survival of shrimp that have to descend ~600' (or over 1,500' in the case of some sidestripes) is not good. Some suggest that we close the season earlier to reduce the take of egg-bearing females, but to me that just makes us feel better with zero biological benefit. If we kill a female in June when she has no eggs or in September when she does, the net result is the same - dead female who will lay no eggs.

    If there is a population concern, seasons should be shortened or gear restrictions should be made. I've yet to hear an idea on how we could otherwise reduce the take of females.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    If we kill a female in June when she has no eggs or in September when she does, the net result is the same - dead female who will lay no eggs.
    Good point
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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    There really isn't a viable way to not target females. Some release egg-bearing females, but I've read speculation that the likelihood of survival of shrimp that have to descend ~600' (or over 1,500' in the case of some sidestripes) is not good. Some suggest that we close the season earlier to reduce the take of egg-bearing females, but to me that just makes us feel better with zero biological benefit. If we kill a female in June when she has no eggs or in September when she does, the net result is the same - dead female who will lay no eggs.

    If there is a population concern, seasons should be shortened or gear restrictions should be made. I've yet to hear an idea on how we could otherwise reduce the take of females.
    Brian
    You got to remember shrimp are "transformers" they might be all males in june but 1/2 of what we catch and eat might turn into females by september ??? I'm all for shortening the season by a month (at least) and seeing what one spawning cycle gives us, i'd bet it would be more shrimp. I just had a nice talk with the biologist in Cordova about the shrimp population and they think its holding steady in the sound but all i hear from just about all my customers is that they aren't seeing (catching) shrimp like they did just a few years ago(pre 8 pot limit year). I think its partly due to the 3000 permits issued every year, don't know how many of them get fished but its still way more gear in the water every year and that just slices the pie into slivers instead of pieces. OK before i get the old "its those commercial guys" line hear this the commercial guys caught aprox 19,000lbs last year and the recreational guys caught aprox 90,000lbs so who's doing the damage ??? Anyway i still think shorten the season and give the eggers a break.

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    Michael,
    This topic was covered here a couple years ago about the time F&G allowed 8 pots per person. It was debate regarding the eggers people were catching and how it should be dealt with. Do a search and you should find it.
    I agree with Potbuilder though, the shrimping has gone downhill compared to what we were pulling out 5, 6, 7 years ago. Last two years has been dismal compared to the past. I would be sorely dissapointed that I invested all this $ into gear and the fishery dried up for whatever reason. It's really something special that we enjoy and has ruined us on eating any other shrimp forever. It's PWS shrimp from our pots or nothing cause you can't get them any better anywhere else.
    BK

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    . If we kill a female in June when she has no eggs or in September when she does, the net result is the same - dead female who will lay no eggs.
    That only makes 1/2 sense to me. As Steve mentioned they are transformers, but when you kill a pregnant female full of eggs, you have just killed 100's if not 1000's. By not harvesting eggers, you at least give nature a chance. Kinda like letting a large hen salmon go since she is on her way to spawn up river but killing one you catch in the ocean a year or so before she runs. I guess thats why in Alaska most of our hunting is pre-rut or cut off before the rut is over to give nature a chance to replentish with what is left over to replentish. Between our man made restrictions along with nature taking its course with predators and weather conditions, we hope an pray for the best.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    Brian
    You got to remember shrimp are "transformers" they might be all males in june but 1/2 of what we catch and eat might turn into females by september ?
    Still Steve, it remains that a dead shrimp is a dead shrimp and thus incapable of reproducing. If I kill it in May when it's a male, it still isn't going to lay any eggs in October...just as it wouldn't if I killed it in September when it's full of eggs. Pulling one up that is carrying eggs instead of catching it before it is laden just gives us a visual reminder of the threat of overharvest - it doesn't actually change anything with regards to the reproductive capacity of the population. If I kill a cow caribou in August when it is barren or in March when it is pregnant, the net result is the same - one less calf-producing cow and fewer calves the next year. The same is true of shrimp.

    The reason I point that out is to clarify that there is nothing to be done about the harvest of eggers short of looking at season length and/or gear restrictions. I would be interested in any research that looks at survival rates of released shrimp, but until that time I'll be releasing my eggers right into a pot of boiling water.

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    I agree with Brian on this one. A shrimp is a shrimp whenever it is caught. The only way to protect the population is through controlling the catch.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

  12. #12

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    Here's one way to look at it. All shrimp have the potential to get to the point in their life where they have developed eggs. The shrimp that is caught/killed that doesn't yet have eggs might or might not have made it to the point later in life where they were able to develop eggs. The shrimp that is caught/killed that does have eggs was able to make it to the point in its life where it actually developed eggs and was able all of its life to avoid being eaten by other critters. So if you killed a shrimp that didn't have eggs then maybe you did or maybe you didn't kill a shirmp that would have eventually had eggs. However, if you killed a shrimp that has eggs then it's a certainty that you killed a shrimp that has eggs. Obviously, hard for me to put into words.

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    I have mixed emotions about this. I too catch less shrimp and you can call it any way you like, my catch dropped off when the commercial guys went thru!
    Regarding the 8 pot thing, it only lasted one season and if I remember correctly was well received by guys selling gear. Now it's all our fault? Go figure.

    Didnt they shut down the commercial guys early last year due to no shrimp? Then why turn them loose again this year? I think I'll have a talk to a biologist too!

    Mike

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    Getting back to the egg question and continuing the previous rant, I see it this way. It's a concentration thing, pure and simple. Maybe the recreational guys caught more shrimp than the commercial fleet but I guarantee the rec gs are all over the map. The commercial guys can most likely see all their gear from one side of the boat,times a whole lot more gear than we can run times however many commercial gs choose to be in an area at the same time, they tend to flock!

    i learned a long time ago to be done by July and the egg problem is not a problem, you can only eat so many of them things and you use to be able to get them on one trip!

    Ill let it go now.
    Mike

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I release the ones I catch with eggs, maybe they won't live, maybe they will. They sure won't in my skillet. Where I have fished for lobsters, it was not legal to take females with eggs. I have never been one to take any animal that is female, not judging, just my own preference. At one time I have harvested does, only because you had to to earn a buck tag.

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    what area will the commercial shrimpers be in this year

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Kind of like Steve, I have always released the ones with eggs. I find it hard to believe that all of them that I toss back in make it safely back down to the bottom, but I hope that at least some of them do.

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TM2SNOW View Post
    what area will the commercial shrimpers be in this year
    I believe that this is the third season for the commercial guys. I believe that they go back to Area 1 which is the Northern Sound.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alasgun View Post
    ...i learned a long time ago to be done by July and the egg problem is not a problem, you can only eat so many of them things and you use to be able to get them on one trip!

    Mike
    Far be it from me to counsel anyone on their businessespecially when it is approved by those who know far more than me. I tend toagree with Alasgun that there is only so many shrimp a couple or family can eat. Iknow folks who have a different mentality when it come to the harvest of seacreatures, including shrimp. Their thought process is to harvest as many asthey can, regardless of the consequences. I personally make what I harvest inone week in June the limit that I take. That is what works for my family.Others needs surely are different than ours and I won’t criticize them andtheir decisions. I would, however, suggest that all of us remember that to be greedyis to ensure the failure of our fishery. It is the most singular reason for thefailure of any single entity in our system. Greed, taking more than we can use,taking more than we need, in essence the taking in excess of what we can reasonablyexpect to use. Being balanced in our harvest for personal use is essential forthe future of a sustainable fishery.
    Just my $0.02 worth

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    There are a lot of good ideas and some good ... no, GREAT thinking going on here on this topic. The common thread seems to be that shrimp populations, based on the catch per pot per times down, is decreasing. The science seems to be lacking, but it sure makes sense to limit or prohibit shrimping after July and see what happens...this is from someone the often shrimps in August, it may be the only month I am in PWS but I agree that we have to get beyond our own personal wants as several said so well.

    That said, where I shrimp it is RARE for anyone else to EVER shrimp there (others are fishing around there all the time and they verify this when I am not there...). And, I do not take that many shrimp myself. Yet, I have see the same decline as elsewhere in PWS, AND, weirdly, only two of the shrimp I caught last August had eggs. So something bigger seems to be going on besides the "take". At the same time, most of you are aware that the silver salmon run was dismal or non-existent last year, even the hatchery runs, which means they weren't the result of a bad spawning year. And, in my experience, the salmon runs, both pinks and silvers and even the few small chum runs I know of, are later and later, sometimes more than 6 weeks late, even when the run is big...

    Well, I think it is ocean conditions...acidification, lowered salinity (both a fact of climate change), Neptune farts, whatever. Also, regarding depleting of one area by commercial or sport harvest: are shrimp pelagic, like lingcod and halibut, so that they can repopulate an area or move away? Or are they resident with a small home range, like yelloweye?

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