The problem, he said is that the fishery managers always conduct their surveys in the same place and at the same time of year, which renders them incapable of allowing for the shifting stock and modified timetable.
“There’s something wrong with their science and the way they get their data and they won’t fix it,” Theriault said.
Hawk said Theriault isn’t the first fisherman to advance the possibility the shrimp now are showing up at different times of the year than in the past.
But, she said, it is imperative the body’s technical committee conduct its annual summer and fall surveys at the same relative time and in the same general location to allow for an accurate comparisons to previous years.
One thing is clear: This Gulf of Maine shrimp season will be one for the inglorious record books if it’s worse than last year, when boats from Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire hauled in 662,000 pounds — the lowest harvest since 1978, when the fishery was shuttered altogether.
Based on the projection of a dwindling shrimp stock, regulators set the total catch limit for Gulf of Maine shrimp last season at 1.4 million pounds, delayed the opening of the season to late January and restricted fishing to two days a week.
They later expanded the fishing schedule and lifted the 800-pound trip limit. But by March, the season was declared a bigger bust than anyone expected.
Hawk said the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will set the new 2013-14 catch quotas and fishing schedules in November.
But at least for now, based on the preliminary survey numbers, this season is shaping up as even worse than last year — offering fishermen yet another haul of bad news from the sea.