It looks like there could be some changes coming for Maine’s shrimping industry. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, strains on the area’s shrimp fisheries over the last few years are causing regulators to consider new rules to limit shrimp fishing in Maine.
Every year, limits are placed on how shrimp can be caught in the region during a season. Last year, shrimpers surpassed that limit by 48 percent. In order to maintain the sustainability of the fishery, regulators are considering limiting entry for fishermen later in the season or for those who don’t have a history of fishing in the area.
As opposed to putting a quota on the amount of shrimp that can be caught or imposing limits on the length of fishing season (like what Sweden did when crayfish was being over caught), regulators believe that this will be the best and most effective way to limit boats on the water and maintain a sustainable fishery for years to come.
However, lobster fishermen in Maine are concerned about how these changes could adversely reflect them. A lot of lobster fishers will catch shrimp in their off-season to supplement their incomes and stay in business, but if these kinds of regulations are put in place, that will no longer be an option.
The solution to this dilemma is not clear since, either way, these changes will affect many fishermen. And although some issues are bigger or smaller than others, we often forget the human element of the food we’re eating. These regulation issues might seem small to many of us, but they could have drastic consequences for these Maine fisherman.
Sometimes when you pick out some meat or fish at the store, you don’t think about the fact that at some point, someone was handling those animals. A farmer or fisherman was growing or catching the food and these people are basing their livelihoods on their ability to sell these products for a profit. We often complain about high food prices, but remember that if you’re buying from a smaller company or producer-like the people who operate stands at farmers’ markets-you’re directly helping these people to make a living and survive while catching or growing the food we love to eat.