April 20, 2017 — David Goethel wishes he could retire.
At 63, he’s been fishing off the Gulf of Maine for over 34 years. Shrimp used to be plentiful there. Back in 2000, Goethel remembers seeing 100 commercial boats out in the harbor. Now, he’s just one of a handful of local fisherman struggling to make a living.
“There was life on the docks, there were people working,” lifelong fisherman Arnold Gamage, 64, agrees. “Now, it looks like a ghost town.”
Maine’s fishing industry has been declining for years due to factors like overfishing and increased regulation, but there’s another culprit eating away at profits: Maine’s ocean waters are warming — and it’s killing northern shrimp.
Goethel, Gamage and other fishermen used to look forward to shrimping as a way to augment their income in the cold New England winters.
“Now, I see a lot of those same people, they’ve got 4-wheel trucks and they’re trying to plow snow to take in some kind of income,” Goethel says.
Regulators at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission banned commercial shrimping in 2014. The goal was to give northern shrimp a chance to repopulate. While the ban has helped, regulators are still worried about the species’ survival.