Commercial shrimp season coming to an end

In this file photo, the Ultima Cruz is shown docked at the Brownsville Shrimp Basin on Aug. 24, 2017.

Commercial shrimp season for both Texas and federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico will end 30 minutes after sunset on May 15.

In order to allow the brown shrimp to reach a larger and more valuable size prior to harvest, the shrimp fishery is closed annually, the Texas Parts and Wild Life Department announced in a press release.

“The closure is designed to allow shrimp to migrate into gulf waters where they can grow to a larger, more valuable size before they are harvested,” said TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division Director Robin Riechers. “The goal is to provide shrimp of a certain size that are more valuable to the shrimping industry while also ensuring sustainable stocks in the future.”

The May 15 closing date is based on samples collected by biologists using trawl, bag seine and information gathered from the shrimping industry, TPWD said. Data collected includes bag seine catch rates of brown shrimp, mean lengths of shrimp in April 2021, percent of samples containing shrimp, and periods of maximum nocturnal ebb tidal flow.

The Coastal Fisheries Division of TPWD will be sampling shrimp populations during the summer to determine the right opening date. That still-to-be determined date will happen sometime in July.

Prior to the shrimp boats heading out to the gulf waters in July, a Blessing of the Fleet event is held in which a priest offers a blessing for both the shrimpers and their boats.

The shrimp season for the Gulf of Mexico ranges from sometime in July to Nov. 30.

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 shrimping to conform to the Texas closure.