Shrimp remains one of our favorite types of seafood. Although our shrimp fisheries are among the largest and highest valued in the United States, farm-raised imports make up the majority of our shrimp supply. 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 and Mexico.
- Gray triggerfish
- Greater amberjack
- Ocean perch
- Sea Bass
- Turbot (Greenland)
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Northern White Shrimp, Gray Shrimp, Lake Shrimp, Green Shrimp, Common Shrimp, Daytona Shrimp, Southern Shrimp
U.S. wild-caught from North Carolina to Texas
- FISHING RATE
- HABITAT IMPACTS
Click the icons to learn more about each criteria
White shrimp.LAUNCH GALLERY
White shrimp is one of the three species of penaeid shrimp harvested in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. White shrimp was the first species of commercially important shrimp in the United States – the white shrimp fishery dates back to 1709. Today, fisheries for brown, pink, and white shrimp are some of the most valuable fisheries in the southeastern United States. Nearly 90 percent of the white shrimp harvested in the U.S. comes from the Gulf, mainly from Louisiana and Texas. Prized for their sweet, tender meat and easy-to-peel shells, white shrimp are caught year-round, with peaks in the fall.
Shrimp are essentially an “annual crop” – most shrimp do not survive longer than 2 years. Although scientists monitor shrimp abundance to ensure the stock is healthy, abundance is not as an important 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.
Although shrimp populations are fairly resilient to fishing pressure, commercial shrimp fisheries can impact the abundance of other species, including sea turtles and finfish such as red snapper. To reduce this bycatch, shrimp trawlers must have bycatch reduction devices (BRDs), which are designed to retain shrimp and allow fish to exit. Scientists monitor shrimp effort as a proxy for the amount of bycatch taken. If shrimp effort exceeds certain thresholds, managers can close some areas to shrimp trawling at certain times to control bycatch.
Shrimp fishermen must also comply with federal sea turtle conservation requirements, including using Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). A TED is a grid of bars with an opening at either the top or bottom of the trawl net. The grid is fitted into the neck of a shrimp trawl. Small animals such as shrimp can pass through the grid, but it stops large animals such as sea turtles and they can escape through the opening, relatively unharmed. When properly installed and maintained, TEDs effectively reduce sea turtle deaths. In 2010 and 2011, NOAA recorded a spike in the number of sea turtle strandings in the Gulf of Mexico, and analyses suggested many turtles stranded because of interactions with the trawl fishery. 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.
LOCATION & HABITAT
White shrimp are found off the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico, specifically from Fire Island, New York, to St. Lucie Inlet on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, and from the Ochlochonee River on the Gulf Coast of Florida to Campeche, Mexico. They live in shallow water, generally less than 90 feet deep but up to 270 feet deep. Young shrimp live and grow in nursery areas with muddy bottoms and low to moderate salinity. White shrimp commonly inhabit estuaries and coastal areas out to about 100 feet offshore. White shrimp are often found in association with other shrimp species, specifically brown shrimp P. aztecus.
Shrimp grow fairly fast, depending on factors such as water temperature and salinity, and can reach up to 7 or 8 inches in length. They have a short life span, usually less than 1 year. White shrimp are able to reproduce when they reach about 5 1/2 inches long. White shrimp spawn when offshore bottom water temperatures increase, generally from May through September in the Carolinas and from March through September further south in the Gulf of Mexico. 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; the eggs are fertilized as they are released. Newly hatched shrimp travel to their estuarine nursery habitats in April and early May. They return to the ocean as adults within a few months.
White shrimp larvae feed on plankton (tiny plants and animals). Juvenile and adult shrimp are omnivorous and feed on the bottom on detritus, plants, microorganisms, macroinvertebrates, and small fish. Cannibalism is also common among adult white shrimp. 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.
White shrimp are crustaceans with 10 slender, relatively long walking legs and five pairs of swimming legs located on the front surface of the abdomen. Unlike brown and pink shrimp, white shrimp are not grooved. Part of their shell is a well-developed, toothed rostrum that extends to or beyond the outer edge of the eyes. White shrimp can also be distinguished from other species by their much longer antenna (2.5 to 3 times longer than their body length), light gray body color, green coloration on the tail, and the yellow band on part of the abdomen.
Scientists monitor white shrimp populations every year, but abundance estimates are not as useful for shrimp as they are for other seafood species. Shrimp are an annual crop – most shrimp do not survive longer than 1 year. Managers mainly base their management decisions on historic harvest amounts and fishing rates. They also look at the amount of surviving parents and environmental conditions, such as weather and water temperatures.
White shrimp have not been classified as being overfished for more than 40 years.
Harvesting white shrimp
Commercial fishermen harvest shrimp with trawls. Shrimp trawlers tow cone-shaped 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.
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 on selected trips. 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.
- Although not overfished, the white shrimp resource in the South Atlantic region is periodically decimated by severe winter cold kills, especially offshore of Georgia and South Carolina. Following these events, continued fishing on the few remaining adults in the spring can reduce the more valuable fall shrimp production. If severe cold weather reduces the white shrimp population by 80 percent or more, then North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and east Florida can request a fishery closure for white shrimp in federal waters adjacent to closed state waters. These fishery closures help protect the remaining adult population so they can spawn.
Gulf of Mexico: Shrimp Fishery Management Plan
- Fishermen must have a permit to harvest shrimp in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There is currently a moratorium on issuing new permits to reduce 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 on selected trips. 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.
- Trawling for shrimp is prohibited in federal waters off Texas from mid-May to mid-July each year. In cooperation with the State of Texas, the Council annually closes the shrimp fishery off Texas 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.
- Scientists monitor shrimp effort as a proxy for the amount of bycatch taken. If shrimp effort exceeds certain thresholds, managers can close some areas to shrimp trawling at certain times to control bycatch.
The three species of penaeid shrimp (white, pink, and brown) make up more than 99 percent of the shrimp harvested in the Gulf of Mexico. White and brown shrimp dominate the annual shrimp harvests in the South Atlantic.
Nearly 90 percent of the white shrimp harvested in the U.S. comes from the Gulf, mainly from Louisiana and Texas. The 2010 commercial white shrimp harvest totaled almost 103.4 million pounds, with 55.8 million from Louisiana and 27.3 million from Texas.
Annual harvests of penaeid shrimp vary considerably from year to year, mainly 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. The 2010 commercial harvest of white shrimp was worth over $200 million.
Recreational fishermen catch white shrimp seasonally and almost always in state waters. Regulations vary state by state.
White shrimp are one of the three species of penaeid shrimp (warmwater shrimp commonly harvested in the southeast). Penaeid shrimp are generally flavorful and sweet, but vary slightly in taste according to the species. Whites are sweet and slightly more tender, and their shells are somewhat softer and easier to peel than other shrimp. Large white shrimp don’t develop the slight iodine taste of other large shrimp. Browns are firm and sometimes have slight iodine taste, and pinks are tender and sweet. 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. (Seafood Business, 2011)
Year-round, with peaks in the fall.
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|
White Shrimp Table of Nutrition