What’s Eating Maine Shrimp?

A new wrinkle in the mysterious disappearance of Maine shrimp.

Maine Shrimp
Associated Press | Robert F. Bukaty
By Will Grunewald
From our January 2022 issue

The tiny, cold-loving shrimp in the Gulf of Maine were always a winter delicacy, prized for their sweet taste and delicate texture — as easily undercooked as overcooked, incredible when done just right. By 2010, regulators had expanded the season, on account of an apparently thriving population. A few years later, the shrimp had all but disappeared, and regulators instituted a moratorium on shrimping. Rapidly warming waters were a prime suspect, although just how they could cause such a sudden collapse was unclear. Now, biologists from the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the federal government’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center are eyeing a more specific culprit: longfin squid. Their research suggests that the shrimp-eating squid, normally clustered south of Georges Bank, swarmed into the gulf as water temperatures spiked in 2012. The moratorium, recently up for reconsideration, was extended another three years, through 2024. With the shrimp population still lagging and warmer waters here to stay, a recipe for success looks hard to come by.