Introduction – MS Shrimp

Mississippi Shrimp MAP


Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) was founded in 2012 and is the sustainable seafood program of Audubon Nature Institute, a not-for-profit network of attractions dedicated to “Celebrating the Wonders of Nature.” G.U.L.F.’s Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) were initiated under the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) Oil Disaster Recovery Program (ODRP). GSMFC requested that G.U.L.F. create FIPs based on assessments of U.S. state fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico
using the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF).



The scope of the Mississippi Shrimp MAP includes the shrimp fishery management and operations in Texas state waters and federal management and fishing operations in U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters in the Gulf of Mexico for the two primary shrimp species (brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) and white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus)) taken for human consumption. Primary gear types are otter and skimmer trawls. The Mississippi shrimp fishery is part of the larger Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery which includes Alabama, Louisiana, Texas,  and Florida. The fishery is managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), with each state retaining management authority within state waters.

Status of the Fishery

The Mississippi shrimp fishery primarily harvests brown and white shrimp in Mississippi state territorial waters and federal waters in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Total shrimp harvest landed in Mississippi in 2015 was 10.2 million pounds with a dockside value of $11.5 million. 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 experiencing overfishing. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) and NOAA Fisheries manage the fishery in federal waters and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) manages the fishery within state waters.

The primary gear types used in the Mississippi fishery are otter trawls and skimmer trawls. Otter trawls are primarily used offshore and both are used inshore. Butterfly nets and cast nets are also legal gear in Mississippi but landings from these gear types are minimal. Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) are required in otter trawls in both state and federal waters by federal regulation and this regulation is enforced by NOAA, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and MDMR. Skimmer trawls 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 Mississippi state waters; however, many fishermen in state waters do pull BRDs, with recent research indicating that approximate 45% of skimmer trawls pull BRDs. Fishermen in Mississippi are allowed to retain bycatch species for sale or personal consumption within regulatory requirements for those species. Notable improvements made in the shrimp fishery in recent years include stock monitoring, bycatch reduction, area closures, and sea turtle nesting enhancement projects.

G.U.L.F. completed a Sustainability Benchmarking Report in September 2015 to assess the current status of the Mississippi shrimp fishery and identify areas of potential improvement. Initial sustainability gaps identified include the following:

• Bycatch ratios are still high in comparison to other US trawl fisheries

• Observer coverage is low (1-2% on otter trawl fleet and <1% on skimmer trawl fleet)

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

• TED compliance rate has fluctuated close to the required levels in past years, but currently
remains above minimum threshold

• Bycatch data and information regarding use of BRDs in state waters is limited

• Mississippi does not have an industry task force for shrimp

• The state Fishery Management Plan is outdated

MS shrimp

Return to MS Shrimp

Download the Audubon Gulf Seafood Guide mobile app:
Click here for the app tutorial on YouTube.
Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.