Most fish and shellfish species are managed based on abundance. Since brown shrimp are short-lived and heavily influenced by environmental factors, abundance is not a major consideration. Managers instead consider historic harvest amounts and fishing rates to set appropriate catch levels. For example, the overfished level for South Atlantic pink shrimp is based on historical catch per unit effort from surveys. Managers are developing new definitions of overfishing and overfished for Gulf of Mexico pink, white, and brown shrimp to help track the status of these stocks better through Amendment 15 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico.
- Gray triggerfish
- Greater amberjack
- Ocean perch
- Sea Bass
- Turbot (Greenland)
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Brownies, Green Lake Shrimp, Red Shrimp, Redtail Shrimp, Golden Shrimp, Native Shrimp, Summer Shrimp
U.S. wild-caught from North Carolina to Texas
- FISHING RATE
- HABITAT IMPACTS
Click the icons to learn more about each criteria
Baby brown shrimp.LAUNCH GALLERY
Brown shrimp is one of the three species of penaeid shrimp (warm-water shrimp) harvested in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Today, the fishery for brown, pink, and white shrimp is one of the most valuable fisheries in the southeastern United States. Approximately 95 percent of the brown shrimp harvested in the United States from 2003-2012 came from the Gulf of Mexico, mainly from Texas and Louisiana. Brown shrimp are available fresh and frozen year-round.
Although our shrimp fisheries are among the largest and highest valued fisheries in the United States, farm-raised imports make up the majority of our shrimp supply (1.1 billion pounds in 2013, valued at $5.3 billion). In fact, shrimp imports make up nearly 30 percent of all seafood we import (in value). We mainly import shrimp from Southeast Asian countries, followed by Ecuador, India, and Mexico.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Brown shrimp are found in the western north Atlantic from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to the Florida Keys and along the Gulf Coast to northwestern Yucatan in Mexico. They live in shallow water, generally less than 180 feet deep, but up to 360 feet deep. As they grow, they migrate seaward to deeper, saltier water. They travel primarily at night, especially at or shortly after dusk, and bury themselves in the bottom substrate during the day. When in inshore waters, shrimp like areas with muddy or peaty bottoms rich in organic matter and decaying vegetation. Offshore, brown shrimp are most abundant on soft bottoms of mud and sand.
Brown shrimp grow fairly fast, depending on factors such as water temperature and salinity, and can reach up to 7 inches in length. They have a short life span, usually less than two years. Brown shrimp are able to reproduce when they reach about 5 ½ inches long. They spawn in relatively deep water. Females typically release about 500,000 to 1 million eggs near the ocean floor. Scientists aren’t sure exactly when shrimp spawn, but they do know that large numbers of newly hatched shrimp enter estuaries in February and March to settle in their nursery habitat.
Brown shrimp larvae feed on plankton (tiny floating plants and animals). Juvenile and adult shrimp are omnivorous and feed on the bottom at night on worms, algae, microscopic animals, and various types of organic debris. Sheepshead minnows, water boatmen, and insect larvae eat postlarval shrimp; grass shrimp, killifishes, and blue crabs prey on young shrimp; and a wide variety of finfish feed heavily on juvenile and adult shrimp.
Brown shrimp are crustaceans with 10 slender, relatively long walking legs and five pairs of swimming legs located on the front surface of the abdomen. They are grooved on the back surface of the shell and have a well-developed, toothed rostrum (part of their shell) that extends to or beyond the outer edge of the eyes. The tails of brown shrimp usually have a purple to reddish purple band and green or red pigmentation.
Brown shrimp are essentially an “annual crop” – most do not survive longer than 2 years. Although scientists monitor shrimp abundance to ensure the stock is healthy, abundance is not a major consideration for fishery managers as with other seafood species. Instead, managers consider historic harvest amounts and fishing rates in developing a management strategy for the fishery. They also look at the amount of surviving parents and environmental conditions, such as weather and water temperatures. As long as environmental conditions are favorable, shrimp are very productive and can rebound from low abundance one year to high abundance the next.
Based on the latest stock assessments, the South Atlantic (2014) and Gulf of Mexico (2011) stocks are not overfished nor subject to overfishing.
Harvesting brown shrimp
Commercial fishermen harvest shrimp with trawls. Shrimp trawlers tow nets through the water near the ocean floor. The nets are wide in the front and taper toward the back, where the captured shrimp and any incidentally caught species are concentrated.
Trawl vessels fishing for shrimp must comply with federal sea turtle conservation requirements, including the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) when fishing with certain types of gear. A TED is a sorting grid that is sewn into a trawl net to allow shrimp to pass through to the back of the net, but prevents larger animals, such as turtles and sharks, from passing through by allowing them to escape through flaps above or below the TED. When properly installed and maintained, TEDs effectively reduce sea turtle deaths. Since 2010, NOAA’s Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN) has documented a spike in the number of sea turtle strandings in the Gulf of Mexico each spring, and analyses suggest many turtles died because of fisheries bycatch. Managers, enforcement officers, and the shrimp industry are working to ensure proper compliance with TED requirements to reduce sea turtle bycatch in the southeastern shrimp fishery.
Shrimp trawlers fishing with certain types of gear must also use bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) to reduce finfish bycatch. BRDs are installed behind the TED, and enable some finfish to escape the trawl. Scientists monitor shrimp fishing effort as a proxy for the amount of finfish bycatch. If shrimp effort exceeds certain thresholds, managers can close some areas to shrimp trawling at certain times to control finfish bycatch.
To prevent habitat impacts, trawlers 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 to stir up shrimp from the bottom into the net. This “weak-link” allows the tickler chain to drop away if it gets hung up on natural bottom structures.
Who’s in charge? NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils manage shrimp fisheries in offshore federal waters; state resource management agencies are responsible for inshore state waters.
South Atlantic: Shrimp Fishery Management Plan
- Fishermen must have a permit to harvest shrimp in federal waters of the South Atlantic. They must submit reports on catch and fishing effort for each fishing trip and carry a fishery observer if selected. Observers collect data on the catch, bycatch, fishing effort, and fishing gear. Information collected through reports and observers helps scientists and managers better monitor and manage the fishery.
Gulf of Mexico: Shrimp Fishery Management Plan
- Fishermen must have a permit to harvest shrimp in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Currently no new permits are being issued to prevent an increase in the number of boats participating in the fishery and help it operate more profitably and efficiently.
- Fishermen must submit reports on catch and fishing effort for each fishing trip. They must install an electronic logbook and/or carry a fishery observer if selected. Observers collect data on the catch, bycatch, fishing effort, and fishing gear. Information collected through reports and observers helps scientists and managers better monitor and manage the fishery.
- In cooperation with Texas, NOAA Fisheries annually closes federal waters to shrimp fishing off Texas from approximately mid-May to mid-July to allow brown shrimp to grow to a larger and more valuable size before they’re harvested, and to prevent waste of brown shrimp that might otherwise be discarded due to their small size. This annual closure ranges from 45 to 90 days and is based on biological sampling conducted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. NOAA Fisheries opens federal waters when Texas opens its state waters.
The three species of penaeid shrimp (white, pink, and brown) made up approximately 97 percent of the shrimp harvested in the Gulf of Mexico from 2003-2012. White and brown shrimp dominate the annual shrimp harvests in the South Atlantic.
Approximately 95 percent of the brown shrimp harvested in the U.S. from 2003-2012 came from the Gulf of Mexico, mainly from Texas and Louisiana. The 2012 commercial brown shrimp harvest totaled over 109 million pounds, with 51.4 million from Texas and 29.2 million from Louisiana.
Annual harvests of penaeid shrimp vary considerably from year to year, primarily due to environmental conditions. Fishing effort and market prices also influence annual harvests.
The commercial shrimp fishery is one of the most economically important fisheries in the southeast. The 2012 commercial harvest of brown shrimp was worth nearly $200 million.
Recreational fishermen catch brown shrimp seasonally and almost always in state waters. Under federal management, there is no recognized recreational fishery. Fishing in federal waters requires a permit. State regulations vary from state to state.
Brown shrimp are one of the three species of penaeid shrimp (warm-water shrimp) commonly harvested in the southeast. Penaeid shrimp are generally flavorful and sweet, but vary slightly in taste according to the species. Brown shrimp are firm and sometimes have a slight iodine taste. Pink shrimp are tender and sweet. White shrimp are sweet and firm. It can be hard to tell these shrimp apart, partly because all raw shrimp meat is translucent pink to gray in color. When cooked, their shells are pinkish-red and their meat is pearly white with pink and red shadings.
Year-round, with peaks in the summer.
Shrimp is low in saturated fat and is a very good source of protein, selenium, and vitamin B12.
|Serving Weight||100 g (raw)|
|Fat, total||1.73 g|
|Saturated fatty acids, total||0.328 g|
|Sugars, total||0 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||0 g|
Brown Shrimp Table of Nutrition