South Carolina shrimp season delayed due to weather conditions

The shrimp season in the sate opened today when it usually does at the end of May.
SCDNR staff sort shrimp aboard a monthly crustacean trawl survey in Charleston Harbor.

SCDNR staff sort shrimp aboard a monthly crustacean trawl survey in Charleston Harbor.

Photo: K. Hackathorn/SCDNR.

Commercial shrimp fishing in all legal South Carolina waters opened today at 8 a.m., later than in other years due to experiencing a winter with more moderate temperatures.

Typically, shrimp season fully opens at the end of May, right after the opening of the eight smaller provisional areas in the state's outer waters. In 2024, these provisional areas opened on April 19 to protect most of the spawning population closer to shore.

"Given the lack of extreme cold weather over the winter, the abundance of white shrimp in the estuaries throughout the state, and the advanced ovarian development of shrimp, we feel good about the timing of the season opener," explained biologist Jeff Brunson, who leads the agency's crustacean management.

To establish the opening date of shrimp season each year, officials from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are guided by samples collected by biologists. These samples must indicate that female white shrimp have already spawned at least once.

One of the dangers of opening the season too soon and allowing trawlers to catch females that didn't spawn is reducing the size of the fall white shrimp crop, which is the offspring of the spring white shrimp.

South Carolina's commercial shrimp calendar

South Carolina's commercial shrimp calendar has historically had three seasons.

First, during the spring, shrimpers generally capitalize on the influx of roe white shrimp. These large shrimp fetch higher prices and generate the most value for fishing efforts.

The summer months are characterized by an abundance of brown shrimp, which are similar to white shrimp in size and taste.

Finally, in the fall and winter, shrimpers bring in a second crop of white shrimp; the offspring of the spring roe shrimp.

Because they are a short-lived species, shrimp are sensitive to cold water temperatures and unusually wet or dry summers. However, they are also prolific spawners, so populations can quickly recover even after a poor year or season.

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