Habitat Impacts – Implications – AL Shrimp

Implications for Alabama and the Gulf

The shrimp trawl fishery in the northern Gulf of Mexico, including Alabama, primarily trawls with smaller nets in shallower waters (less than 30 meters) and is active in primarily mud, sand,  or peat bottoms in areas that are storm-prone and typically experience habitat disturbances from natural causes as well as other anthropogenic activities. While trawling does cause a sediment plume, the turbidity following the disturbance is comparable to that of a 25 mile per hour wind event (Dellapenna et al, 2006). While there is also potential to disturb benthic and epibenthic fauna, organisms in soft mud have the capability to burrow up to two meters (Jennings and Kaiser 1998). Otter trawl doors were found to have a maximum cutting depth of 50 – 300 millimeters (Drew and Larsen 1994) and according to Schubel et al. (1979), the footropes of shrimp trawlers in Texas disturbed approximately the upper 50 millimeters of the sediment (Barnette 2001). Additionally,  epifauna are scarce in muddy sediment habitats (Barnette 2001). Trawls do have the potential to significantly impact reef and complex bottom habitats, but in Alabama, the bottom area is well known. Obstructions and reefs are avoided and prohibited areas have been established to prevent damage to sensitive habitats. Overall, the habitat impacts from skimmer and otter trawls are potentially minor in Alabama and Gulf waters.


Previous: Skimmer Trawls                                                                                            Next: Bycatch and Discards

MS shrimp

Return to AL 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.