Most fish and shellfish species are managed based on abundance. Since pink 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:
Spotted Shrimp, Hopper, Pink Spotted Shrimp, Brown Spotted Shrimp, Grooved Shrimp, Green Shrimp, Pink Night Shrimp, Red Shrimp, Skipper, Pushed Shrimp
U.S. wild-caught from North Carolina to Texas, but mainly from Florida
- FISHING RATE
- HABITAT IMPACTS
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Pink shrimp typically have a dark colored spot on each side between their third and fourth abdominal segments. Photo credit: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.LAUNCH GALLERY
Pink 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 87 percent of the pink shrimp harvested commercially in the United States from 2003-2012 came from the west coast of Florida. Prized for their sweet, tender meat, pink shrimp are caught fresh year-round, but are more abundant during winter months.
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
Pink shrimp are found in the western north Atlantic from southern Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Keys, and around the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan south of Cabo Catoche, Mexico. They’re most abundant off southwestern Florida and the southeastern Gulf of Campeche.
Young shrimp live and grow in nursery areas with marsh grasses (Spartina alterniflora and Juncus spp.) in the South Atlantic and Gulf. These grassy areas offer abundant food and shelter. 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. Smaller pink shrimp remain in the estuary during winter. They bury deep in the substrate to protect themselves from cold weather. Shrimp that survive the winter grow rapidly in late winter and early spring before migrating to the ocean. Pink shrimp are commonly found on sand, sand-shell, or coral-mud bottoms.
Pink shrimp grow fairly fast, depending on factors such as water temperature and salinity, and can reach more than 8 inches in length. They have a short life span, usually less than two years. Pink shrimp are able to reproduce when they reach about 3.3 inches long. Off North Carolina, they spawn in May through July. In Florida they spawn multiple times, peaking from April through July when the water is warmest. Males mate with females and anchor their sperm to the females. Females typically release about 500,000 to 1 million eggs near the ocean floor, and the eggs are fertilized as they are released. Newly hatched shrimp travel to their estuarine nursery habitats in late spring and early summer, propelled by shoreward currents. They return to the ocean as adults in a few months.
Pink shrimp larvae feed on plankton (tiny floating plants and animals). Juvenile and adult shrimp are omnivorous, feeding on copepods, small mollusks, diatoms, algae, plant detritus, bacterial films, slime molds, and yeast. Shrimp is a major source of food for many forms of marine life. 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.
Pink 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 part of their shell is a well-developed, toothed rostrum that extends to or beyond the outer edge of the eyes. Pink shrimp typically have a dark colored spot on each side between their third and fourth abdominal segments. Their tail usually has a dark blue band (rather than the purplish band found on brown shrimp).
Pink 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 pink shrimp stocks in the South Atlantic (2014) and Gulf of Mexico (2008) stocks are not overfished. The South Atlantic (2014) and Gulf of Mexico (2007) stocks are also not subject to overfishing.
Harvesting pink 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 with certain types of gear must comply with federal sea turtle conservation requirements, including the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs). 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 87 percent of the pink shrimp harvested in the United States from 2003-2012 came from the west coast of Florida. In 2012, more than 6.6 million pounds of pink shrimp were harvested from the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Annual harvests of penaeid shrimp vary considerably from year to year, primarily due to environmental conditions. For example, white shrimp harvests are much lower in years following severe winter weather. Fishing effort and market prices also influence annual harvests.
The commercial shrimp fishery is one of the most economically important fisheries in the southeast United States. The 2012 commercial harvest of pink shrimp from the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico was worth more than $196 million.
Recreational fishermen catch pink shrimp seasonally and almost always in state waters. Under federal management, there is no recognized recreational fishery. Fishing in federal waters requires a permit, and state regulations vary from state to state.
Pink 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. Pink shrimp are tender and sweet. White shrimp are sweet and slightly firmer. Brown shrimp are firm and sometimes have slight iodine taste. 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 winter.
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|
Pink shrimp Table of Nutrition