(AP) PORTLAND, Maine — The Gulf of Maine shrimp fishing season could be a short one with the 2012 catch limited to a third of the 2011 harvest.
Shrimp fishermen have been given a catch limit of 4.4 million pounds for the upcoming season, down from the 13 million pounds they caught last season. The new season begins Monday and will end when the catch limit is reached.
Scientists say lower catch limits are needed because shrimp are being overfished, and the supply is declining. But fishermen say their livelihoods are at stake, and processors are worried that markets they've built for the small, sweet shrimp will be put at risk because they won't have enough product to fill orders.
Fishermen are expecting decent prices, but there also will be "dire economic consequences" with so little shrimp to go around, said Maggie Raymond, executive director of Associated Fisheries of Maine.
"I predict it'll be a miracle if they get through the end of January," Raymond said. "I can't see there being anything left in February."