Limited Maine shrimp catch sells fast, despite jumbo prices
Waldoboro — Maine shrimp is selling briskly at Delano's Seafood Market in Waldoboro.
Despite prices of $9 per pound, hungry seafood lovers were rushing to buy freshly bagged shrimp from Kendall Delano Feb. 10, even as he unloaded the bounty brought up from South Bristol that day.
Delano said demand was high after two years without a season, and despite prices around six times higher than a few years ago.
“It’s been pretty steady,” he said. “People are starting to want the taste again.”
Delano said his shop will have shrimp once a week until around mid-March this year. Each week he compiles a list of customers, some of whom have been signing up for the next week’s list when they come to pick up their batches.
Customers buying shrimp Feb. 10 were heard to be picking up anywhere from one to 10 pounds, and many of them sounded like they could barely wait to sink their teeth into the pink crustaceans after weeks, months or perhaps years with little or no Maine shrimp.
The Maine shrimp fishery has been closed since an early end to the 2013 season, but the Department of Marine Resources is conducting a sampling program which allows a select few trawlers and trappers from around the state to catch and sell shrimp, as long as they provide the department with research samples.
Eight Maine trawlers and five trappers were selected by DMR this year to participate in the sampling program. The trawlers can collect 1,200 pounds during each once-weekly shrimping trip, while the trappers are allowed 500 pounds per week.
All told, they are permitted to catch more than twice as much as during last year's sampling.
In 2013, Maine’s fishery produced 560,000 pounds of shrimp, according to a November report from the Portland Press Herald. At its peak, the catch was 18 million pounds, valued at nearly $13 million.
The report said scientists had deemed shrimp numbers in the Gulf of Maine to be at unprecedented lows, and that they blamed the low population on warming waters.
Reporter Dan Otis Smith can be reached at 594-4401 x123 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.