(MOBILE, Ala) The Alabama Marine Resources Division announced Tuesday that several local fishing waters will be closed to shrimping beginning this weekend.
Officials said that as of six o'clock Saturday morning, all waters in the Mississippi Sound north of the northern edge of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Alabama will be closed to shrimp fishing. The closure also included Mobile, Bon Secour and Wolf Bays.
The closure is in response to routine shrimp sampling that indicated the average size were smaller than 68 head-on shrimp per pound, which is the state-regulated per-pound minimum.
"They're running 100-count," Shrimping Veteran Billy Rice said. "That's small shrimp.
"Smaller shrimp are coming in. They close it down until the larger shrimp come in."
Rice said it happens every year.
"The rain water pushes the shrimp out," Rice said. "They migrate. They got a season they come in, and a season they go out."
However, State Marine Biologist Craig Newton said, this year, shrimpers will have to sail elsewhere a little bit earlier than normal.
"Primarily, due to the mild winter, that we had," Newton said, "but, overall, the shrimpers are accustomed to this closure."
Newton said it's hard to pin-point when the closure will end.
Billy Rice predicts it will be May or June before local waters will reopen to shrimping.
"It depends on the water," Rice said. "If it rains, it'll be longer. If it doesn't rain, the river clears up, the salt water comes in they'll open sections of the bay."