Introduction – TX Shrimp

Texas Shrimp FIP


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. fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico using the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF).

G.U.L.F. adapted market-accepted models of FIPs, called Marine Advancement Plans (MAPs) by incorporating assessments conducted using the FAO CCRF. Comprehensive information of the fishery was gathered through interviews with management and industry representatives, public documents, and research publications and compared to the CCRF and G.U.L.F Sustainability Benchmarking Report (SBR).

Based on the needs of some participants, in 2016 the decision was made to transition this project to a Comprehensive FIP based on the guidelines published by the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. An MSC Pre-assessment was completed in November 2016. Actions associated with gaps in the MSC Pre-assessment and SBR have been developed.

Status of the Fishery

The Texas shrimp fishery primarily harvests brown and white shrimp in Texas state territorial waters and federal waters in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. In 2015, 52.6 million pounds of brown shrimp and 16.6 million pounds of white shrimp were landed in Texas with revenues of $96.9 million and $46.5 million respectively. Shrimp accounts for approximately 85% of both landings and overall economic value of the Texas commercial fishing industry. Harvest of brown shrimp peaks in the summer, and harvest of white shrimp peaks in the fall. Brown and white shrimp stocks are found in both state (0-9 nautical miles) and federal waters (9-200 nautical miles) in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and are assessed regionally. Annual 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 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) manages the fishery within state waters. These agencies work collaboratively to effectively manage the fishery, which is managed through limited entry licenses, season and area closures, and gear restrictions.

The primary gear type used in the Texas fishery is the otter trawl. Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) are required in otter trawls in both state and federal waters. Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) are also required in shrimp trawls in both state and federal waters. These regulations are enforced by TPWD,
NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Shrimp fishermen are also allowed to retain most bycatch species within certain regulations.

G.U.L.F. completed a Sustainability Benchmarking Report (SBR) in September 2015 to assess the status of the Texas shrimp fishery and identify areas of potential improvement. Based on the G.U.L.F. SBR and the 2016 MSC Pre-assessment, the following gaps were identified:

• Bycatch ratios are still high in comparison to other U.S. trawl fisheries.

• Observer coverage is low (1-2% on otter trawl fleet) and currently ranked as a Tier 2 “Pilot/Baseline” level program according to NOAA’s National Bycatch Report.

• TED compliance rate has fluctuated close to the required levels in past years and maintaining high compliance is required to prevent additional fishery restrictions, including possible closures, if minimum compliance levels are not met.

• The state Fishery Management Plan is outdated.

• Species characterization in the current observer bycatch reports contain large categories of  unidentified finfish (27%), crustaceans (5%), and invertebrates (7%), prohibiting the MSC assessment team from fully identifying all categories of bycatch required for MSC evaluation.


TX shrimp

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