PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (NEWS CENTER) -- Fishing regulators met in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Thursday to decide whether Maine will have a shrimp season this year.
They heard from scientists who recommended the moratorium on shrimp fishing continue in 2017, saying the stocks are too depleted.
According to Department of Marine Resources scientist Maggie Hunter, "This year we saw a slight improvement in stock, but levels are still low and the stock needs a bit more time to recover."
Fishermen believe the science doesn't tell the whole picture and they recommended a very short season with a limit on boats, days on the water and keeping the catch at 500 metric tons.
After listening to both sides, regulators with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted unanimously to keep the moratorium in place but allow more boats, a total of 10, to go out for test tows to catch up to 53 metric tons of shrimp.
Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher says the state has to balance the science and what fishermen are seeing on the water. He also says warming ocean waters are a big part of the story.
"Warming waters in Gulf of Maine are a huge driver here, will the shrimp stock ever recover? that's a very good question," said Keliher.
The last time there was a shrimp fishing season was 2013.
The boats that go out for test trolls starting in January will give some of their catch to researchers and be allowed to sell the rest to the public.