NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the Gulf pink shrimp fishery in the US South Atlantic under the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the South Atlantic Region. Additionally, various state resource management agencies manage the fishery in inshore state waters (zero to three nautical miles). The Shrimp FMP for the South Atlantic Region regulates the Gulf pink shrimp fishery in federal waters off the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Atlantic Florida. The FMP was first written in 1991, was effective as of 1993, and has subsequently been amended throughout the years. Management measures outlined in the FMP include:
- Commercial permit requirements;
- Mandatory post-trip fishing reports;
- Mandatory observer coverage (if selected); and,
Established catch levels (based on historic abundance and fishing rates as shrimp stocks are highly influenced by environmental factors).
NOAA Fisheries and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manage the US Gulf of Mexico pink shrimp fishery under the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP was first implemented in 1981 and has been amended several times since. It regulates the Gulf pink shrimp fishery in federal waters off of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Gulf Coast of Florida – the latter accounting for 80 percent of the total Gulf pink shrimp harvest in the US. As with the South Atlantic states, various resource management agencies manage the fishery in inshore state waters. Management measures outlined in the FMP include:
- Commercial fishing permits (currently no new permits are being issued);
- Electronic logbook requirements (for all shrimpers) and mandatory trip reports after each fishing trip (for select shrimpers);
- Mandatory observer coverage (if selected); and,
- Area and time closures (all federal waters off Texas are closed from mid-May to mid-July to protect spawning brown shrimp).
Shrimpers are also subject to gear restrictions to prevent bycatch of sea turtles and finfish. Shrimpers using otter trawl gear in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are required to use sea turtle excluder devices (TEDs). TED regulations extend to state waters as sea turtles are covered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the ESA does not distinguish between state and federal waters. Gear configurations vary state by state. For instance, Texas does not allow the use of skimmer trawls, but other states do. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Florida all allow the use of skimmer trawls; however, Florida requires shrimpers use TEDs on this gear. Skimmer trawls have been exempted from TED requirements if they operate with alternative tow time restrictions meaning that the trawl times cannot exceed 55 or 75 minutes during specific times during the year. In an effort to reduce bycatch of finfish, shrimpers operating in the state waters of Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina must install bycatch reduction devices (BRDs). If bycatch exceeds a certain threshold, the area can be closed to fishing. BRDs are not currently required for shrimpers operating in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
All shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico must have a weak link in the tickler chain (which hangs in front of the net and drags along the ocean floor stirring up shrimp from the seafloor) that will allow the tickler chain to drop away if it is hung up on bottom structures.
According to a 2016 stock assessment Gulf pink shrimp in the South Atlantic and the US Gulf of Mexico are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing.
Shrimp fisheries in Mexico are managed by a number of federal agencies and laws. The Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food (SAGARPA) is the agency responsible for establishing public policies to ensure optimum development of resources. The National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) is a branch of SAGARPA responsible for fisheries management, monitoring, and enforcement. CONAPESCA is also responsible for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture resources. The National Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA) is responsible for gathering data that provides the scientific and technical basis for decision-making. Additionally, INSAPESCA assesses the status of wild stocks and evaluates the impacts of fishing gears. Together these three bodies implement a network of management measures including:
- Seasonal closures (the Gulf of Mexico is generally closed between May and September);
- Permanent, year-round area closures;
- Gear restrictions;
- Mandatory TED use (in both the industrial and artisanal trawl fleets) and finfish excluded device use (in the industrial trawl fleet only);
- A voluntary buyback program (aimed at reducing fishing pressure); and,
- Onboard vessel monitoring systems (for the industrial fleet only).
While these measures are currently in place, the Mexican Gulf pink shrimp fishery is depleted and there are currently no comprehensive stock assessments. Therefore, fishery managers have not determined if current fishing levels are sustainable. It is unclear as to how successful the buyback program has been at reducing fishing effort and as there are no observer programs in the Gulf of Mexico, the actual success of the bycatch reduction efforts is unknown. While it is thought that these efforts have generally reduced bycatch, bycatch levels in both the artisanal and industrial fleets in the Gulf of Mexico are still thought to be high. Fishery managers have made improvements – in particular strengthening inspection and enforcement of the industrial fleet – but there are still concerns regarding illegal fishing in some of Mexico’s general artisanal shrimp fleet.