This past Sunday, May 15, marked the end of the Gulf shrimp season until at least mid-July.
"The closure is designed to allow these small shrimp to grow to a larger, more valuable size before they are vulnerable to harvest," said Robin Riechers, coastal fisheries division director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "The goal is to achieve optimum benefits for the shrimping industry while providing proper management to protect the shrimp."
In layman's terms, this simply means that TPWD needs to allow the shrimp time to reproduce, grow and mature over the summer. The exact closure is a fluid date each year, decided on by the TPWD based on samples collected from the Texas shrimping industry.
When the shrimp reach a size of about three-and-a-half inches long, TPWD closes both state and federal waters for the summer to provide sufficient time for the shrimp to migrate out to the Gulf's deeper waters, where they will make lots of new baby shrimp for the next season.
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The TPWD expects to reopen the Gulf on July 15, as it did last year. Until then, waters are closed to shrimping up to nine nautical miles off the coast and -- just in case you think you're being sneaky -- the federally-protected 200 nautical miles out from there by decree of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Of course, there's still plenty of Gulf shrimp to go around for now. That's what freezers are for.