NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the US Atlantic white shrimp fishery under the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP and its amendments:
Establish a permitting system for the harvest of shrimp in federal waters
Requires fishers to submit reports for each trip
Requires fishery observers to be onboard fishing vessels (if selected) to collect data on catch, bycatch, gear, and fishing effort
White shrimp are relatively short-lived can be particularly impacted by severe cold weather during the winter months along the South Atlantic. As such, fishery managers establish catch limits based on historic harvest amounts and fishing effort – rather than on abundance. Stocks can be periodically decimated by cold weather snaps in the South Atlantic, especially in South Carolina and Georgia. When this occurs, the FMP allows individual states to close the shrimp fishery in their waters – as well as in adjacent federal waters – to protect the remaining populations.
NOAA Fisheries and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manage the white shrimp fishery in the Gulf of Mexico under the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The majority of white shrimp harvested in the United States (96 percent in 2014) come from the Gulf of Mexico – particularly from Louisiana and Texas. Implemented in 1981, the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp FMP and its amendments:
Establishes a permitting system for the harvest of shrimp in federal waters (currently no new permits are being issued to limit the number of boats participating in the fishery)
Requires fishers to install electronic logbooks and to submit trip reports for each fishing trip
Establishes an observer program where observers must be aboard vessels (if selected) to collect data on catch, bycatch, gear, and fishing effort
Sets a seasonal, 45 day shrimping closure in the federal waters off Texas (from mid-May to mid-July) to protect brown shrimp populations
Establishes a cooperative Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary in Florida where trawling is off limits and sets seasonal closures in Florida Bay to avoid conflict with stone crab fishing
All states enforce federal requirements mandating that otter trawl vessels have and use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to reduce bycatch of threatened and endangered sea turtles and other species of concern. Federal TED regulations apply to all state-managed waters as well. In Florida, skimmer trawl vessels are also required to use TEDs; however, TEDs are not required on skimmer trawl vessels in the other Gulf Coast states (Texas does not allow the use of skimmer trawls). Currently, the only mitigation strategy to reduce sea turtle bycatch in skimmer trawls is through limits on tow time. In regards to bycatch of finfish, Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) are required in the state waters of Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. BRDs are not required in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In some areas, closures may be instituted if finfish bycatch exceeds certain thresholds.
US shrimp fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic are considered to be both region’s largest and most valuable commercial fisheries. According to a 2015 stock assessment, the white shrimp stocks in both the US Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic are not overfished, nor subject to overfishing.
In Mexico, the white shrimp fishery is managed by a network of federal agencies including: the Secretaría de Agrucultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA, the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food), the Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (CONAPESCA, the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries), and the Instituto Nacional de Pesca (INAPESCA, National Fisheries Institute). These agencies employ management measures such as closed seasons, gear modification, and bycatch reduction programs. Despite management efforts, the white shrimp fishery in Mexico is depleted and it is unclear if measures to reduce bycatch are effective. Noncompliance amongst fishers in regards to gear restrictions and seasonal closures, as well as illegal fishing, further limit rebuilding efforts.