PORT CLYDE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The Gulf of Maine shrimp fishing season started on Monday, but this appears likely to be a short season.
The Atlantic States Marines Fisheries Commission, the agency that regulates Gulf of Maine shrimp, dramatically reduced this year's catch quota to two million metric tons, or about four million pounds.
That's half of last year's quota, and only a third of what was actually caught.
And therein lays the problem. Because fishermen went so far over the quota last year, regulators were concerned another big harvest could lead to shrimp population declines, so they reduced the 2012 catch.
Regulators also restricted who can fish and when.
January is set aside for just draggers. Fishermen who catch shrimp in traps aren't allowed to start fishing until February.
The draggers are only allowed to fish three specific days per week, and can only fish from a half-hour before dawn until 1:00 PM.
Fishermen complain these restrictions make no allowance for bad weather, and that they may prompt some to go out in bad weather, rather than lose a day of fishing, creating a safety risk.
Regulators will also be keeping a close watch on the actual harvest.
Shrimp processors are required to report landings each week, so the regulators will have an up-to-date view of the harvest.
Last year, regulators only saw landing reports once a month, and say that's what led to the harvest exceeding the quota.
Some fishermen and processors say they will likely make less money this season. However, they also say if there is a consistent catch and a reasonable price, and they don't reach the quota until the end of February, both the boats and the processing companies will be able to make some money - at a time of year when they really need it.