Georgia's food shrimp season starts

BRUNSWICK, GA (WTOC) - Georgia waters opened for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The DNR in a news release reminded shrimpers of these rules:

Commercial food shrimp trawlers can operate in Georgia's territorial waters open to power-drawn trawls.

Commercial and recreational cast netters and those using a beach seine can harvest food shrimp from waters open to the use of these gears.

Recreational and commercial cast net fishermen are required to use cast nets with a minimum mesh size of 5/8-inch when harvesting food shrimp, according to the DNR.

Commercial harvest of food shrimp with power-drawn trawls is limited to 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Federal waters (beyond 3 miles offshore) are open for food shrimp harvest 24 hours a day.

Trawler operators must have certified Bycatch Reduction Devices and Turtle Excluder Devices in their trawls while operating in both state and federal waters.

Georgia DNR Conservation Rangers, the United States Coast Guard and NMFS agents will enforce BRD and TED requirements.

Trawler operators are also reminded of the 1,000-foot "Boating Safety Zone" along the beaches of Tybee Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

The boating safety zone is in effect from May 1 through Sept. 30.  Motorized craft, both recreational and commercial and including personal watercraft, are prohibited in these zones during this period.

Contact Coastal Resources Division at 912.264.7218 for information on the opening of the 2011 food shrimp harvest season. Call NMFS Protected Resources Division at 727.824.5312 for information on federal requirements for BRDs and TEDs in shrimp trawls.

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