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January 17, 2012 | last updated January 18, 2012 11:01 am

Petition aims to boost shrimp catch limits

Maine's shrimp fishermen and processers have launched an online petition in an effort to increase catch limits for the season. Regulators cut the limit from 13 million pounds last year to 4.4 million this year.

The group says the drastic limit reduction could cause processers to lose overseas business and take away income from the state's 1,500 shrimp fishermen, according to the Portland Press Herald. The season began Jan. 2 for trawlers, and shrimp trapping opens Feb. 1, and the season ends when the limit is reached. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission lowered the limits to protect against overfishing, though the group behind the petition, which includes Cozy Harbor Seafood in Portland, says the science behind this year's limit is flawed based on reputable reviews. The group has created a website to encourage people to sign the petition.

Officials with the marine commission are scheduled to meet in South Portland on Jan. 19 to discuss the catch limit and current shrimp landings, the Bangor Daily News reported. This year marks the first that dealers are required to report their landings weekly instead of monthly, but so far only about half have complied.

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