Background – LA Shrimp

Louisiana Shrimp

DSC_7636The Louisiana shrimp fishery harvests brown and white shrimp in Louisiana state territorial waters and federal waters in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 67% of landings occurring in state waters within 3 nautical miles of shore. Harvest of brown shrimp peaks in the summer (spring season: mid-May to July), and harvest of white shrimp peaks in the fall (fall season: mid-August to December).

Brown and white shrimp stocks are found in both state and federal waters in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and are assessed regionally. Stock assessments conducted by NOAA Fisheries Galveston Lab indicate that neither shrimp species is overfished or overfishing.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) and NOAA Fisheries manage the fishery in federal waters. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) manages the fishery within state waters.

The primary gear types used in the Louisiana fishery are otter trawls and skimmer trawls.  Butterfly nets and cast nets are also sometimes used, with butterfly nets harvesting approximately 3% of catch, and only a small number of documented landings by cast net. These are the only legal gear types allowed by Louisiana and federal regulations. The primary gear offshore is otter trawl, the dominant gear inshore is skimmer trawl. Skimmer trawls and butterfly nets are only used inshore.

IMG_0138Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) are required in otter trawls in both state and federal waters by federal regulation and this regulation is enforced by NOAA, USCG, and LDWF. Skimmer trawls and butterfly nets are exempt from TED requirements, but must adhere to tow time limits (55 minutes from April 1-October 31, 75 minutes from November 1-March 31)

All shrimp trawls in federal waters are required to use certified bycatch reduction devices (BRDs). BRDs are not required in Louisiana; however, many fishermen in state waters do pull BRDs (recent research indicates that approximate 45% of skimmer trawls pull BRDs), and fishermen in Louisiana are allowed to retain bycatch species for sale or personal consumption within regulatory requirements for those species.

Notable improvements made in shrimp fishery in recent years include: stock monitoring, bycatch reduction, area closures, and sea turtle nesting enhancement projects.

Initial sustainability issues identified (taken from previous work plan):

•  Lack of publicly available information on the status, management, and ecosystem impacts within Louisiana’s jurisdiction.

•  In federal waters, bycatch ratios are high in comparison to other US trawl fisheries.

•  Stock statuses of most frequent bycatch species are unknown.

•  Observer coverage is low (1-2%).

•  TED compliance rate has fluctuated close to the required levels in recent years.

•  Recent research suggests that compliance with tow time regulations is low and Kemp’s ridley turtle captures have been documented.


In 2010, a FIP was announced for the Louisiana shrimp fishery led by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). A public work plan for the fishery was finalized in November of 2012 with the following goals:

1.  Create a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the shrimp fishery management and monitoring in state waters.

2.  Release information on sea turtle interactions in state waters.

3.  Publish information on state fishery management system.

4.  Release information on fishery enforcement including summarized compliance and enforcement data.

As of 2015, all of these actions have been completed.

The Louisiana shrimp FMP is posted on the LDWF website.

Information on sea turtle interactions, state fishery management systems, and fishery enforcement data are included in the Louisiana shrimp FMP, and can also be found on the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force (STF) website.

In fall 2015, SFP  handed leadership of the FIP to the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries Program (G.U.L.F.) as a regional group able to work closely with industry members in Louisiana to further enhance the sustainability of the fishery.

G.U.L.F. and Marine Stewardship Council pre-assessments were completed at the end of 2015 and a current interim work plan is in place, while FIP participants finalize a comprehensive work plan.

Next: Participants


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