We have been lucky to be able to work with individual fishermen and our trusted partners to source Southeast Alaska’s decadent spot shrimp for our subscribers for years. Every October, small boat fishermen head out to set their pots in certain areas around Southeast Alaska that are managed by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) biologists.
Since the fishery is relatively small in volume, and with just around 100 vessels participating, the season only lasts a couple of weeks. In the past, the harvesting and reproductive seasons for spot shrimp overlapped, so we often received female shrimp laden with eggs for our winter subscription boxes.
Every three years, fishermen, community members, and other stakeholders involved in the fishery have an opportunity to suggest changes to the management structure for the Southeast pot shrimp fishery. Last year, ADFG biologists and the Sitka Advisory Committee proposed a season change for the spot shrimp harvest.
Instead of harvesting spot shrimp in the fall during the reproductive season, the new policy moved the season to the spring so the shrimp are harvested after the females have dispersed their eggs.
Sitka Seafood Market advocated for this policy change for the following reasons:
- If you’ve lived or visited Southeast Alaska in October, you know that the weather of this shoulder month can either be a glorious extension of summer with cold but sunny, calm days on the water, or it can be a startling end to summer with sleeting, cold rain and gale-force winds on the water. These rough October days on the water can deter opportunities for small boats if safety is threatened. Additionally, reduced fishing opportunities due to weather conditions can also create localized pressure in areas during the quick season.
- We chatted with ADFG biologists who mentioned that with this season change, there is enhanced biological conservation and fishery management. The fishery will take place after the reproductive season allowing for an opportunity for increased abundance. Another important detail is that the fishery season in October was too close to the ADFG survey to inform the current year’s management practices. Now, the data acquired from the surveys done in the fall can be used for management practices for the upcoming spring fishery.
So, all this is to say that last fall there was not a spot shrimp fishery and we did not source pot-caught spot shrimp for our winter boxes. However, the shifted fishery season did resume in May of 2023 and we were lucky enough to work with fishermen and our trusted partner at Seaborn Seafoods to provide spot shrimp for our members once again.