Gulf of California Industrial Shrimp
Fishery Improvement Project
Last Update: March 2013
yellowleg shrimp (Farfantepenaeus californiensis)
Pacific blue shrimp (Litopenaeus stylirostris)
whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei)
FIP Scope/Scale: Stock and fishing gear (bottom-trawl) level
Fishery Location: Gulf of California, Mexico
If you would like more information about the FIP or wish to support the FIP, please contact SFP.
- Cámara Nacional de la Industria Pesquera y Acuícola (CANAINPESCA)
- Unión de Armadores del Pacífico
- CONAPESCA (National Commission of Aquaculture and Fishing)
- INAPESCA (National Fisheries Institute)
- Sinaloa State Government
- Sonora State Government
For sustainability information for this fishery on FishSource see:
Date Publicly Announced: 2009
FIP Stage: 4, FIP is delivering improvement in policies or practices
Current Improvement Recommendations:
- Engage in the Gulf of California Shrimp Fishery Improvement Project
Request Mexican fisheries agencies ratify the new Mexican Official Standard (NOM-002), which will make Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs - known in Mexico as “fish excluder devices”) mandatory within 3 years
Early adoption of BRDs by industrial trawl vessels and utilization of double footropes (DFRs) for the 2012-2013 fishing season
Regulatory enforcement of the Mexican Official Standard with respect to TEDs and fishing in closed “no take” zones including 5 miles from river mouths and entrances to bays and estuaries
Transparent and timely reporting of enforcement and regulatory violations on government websites
Verification of compliance with fisheries regulations by vessel operators through control documents or letters of warranty that allow third-party audit of fishing records (VMS tracking).
Shrimp in the northwest Pacific coast of Mexico, including the Gulf of California (GoC), is the most important fishery in México. It has the highest economic value of landings, averaging $260 million. It is also the highest ranked fishery in terms of number of vessels (750 bottom trawlers and about 16,000 small-scale vessels) and number of direct jobs (37,000 direct jobs and 75,000 indirect ones). It places third in terms of volume with annual landings of approximately 40,000 tons during a season that begins in September and runs through March.
However, catching shrimp in the GoC has come at a high price. Over the past few decades, bottom-trawling methods have exacted a heavy toll on the environment and Gulf habitat. High levels of bycatch have resulted in the wasteful discard of tens of thousands of tons of about 600 marine species and caused the deaths of globally endangered sea turtles, totoaba (a sea bass found only in the GoC), and seahorse. Heavy trawl doors dragged along the seafloor have greatly impacted sea life. One trawl pass can remove 25 percent of all seabed life and a dozen passes can remove 70 to 80 percent.
Market of GoC industrial shrimp
The market for GoC industrial shrimp is the US (70%, primarily frozen in 5-pound blocks) and the domestic market (30%, fresh and frozen in 4-pound blocks).
Beginning of the FIP
In 2009, SFP invited to the GoC shrimp main importers to the US to start a dialogue on the fishery status and markets sustainability demands.
- Promote the use of gear that diminish the environmental impacts
- Promote full compliance with the Mexican Official Standard regulations, particularly avoidance of “no-take” zones and use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs)
- Develop source fishery traceability
- Promote robust regulatory enforcement and transparency of reporting by the fishery agency (CONAPESCA)
January – March
A FIP roundtable was held in March during the International Boston Seafood Show with major importers, buyers and some producers participating. A workplan for the balance of 2012 was presented and the need verification of regulatory compliance was discussed.
Six companies have signed the FIP agreement with SFP and two of the importers will utilize the control documents.
All FIP importer participants were required, by October 15, 2012, to have signed a FIP agreement and have in place control documents or some other verifiable mechanism for documentation that vessels are complying with Mexican federal fishing regulations. Only importers that have complied with this requirement are listed as FIP participants. Discussions continue with importers and producers not signing FIP agreements or securing control documents.
July – September
In late August and early September 2012, Mexican fishing gear experts provided training to FIP participants’ suppliers on the installation, use, and maintenance of bycatch reduction devices and double footropes in preparation for the 2012-13 season. A report on the workshops can be found on this website.
A revised 2012-2013 workplan
was developed, which stresses the importance of continued dialogue with CONAPESCA to try to reach agreement on regulatory enforcement and transparency of reporting.
October – December
SFP conducted a monitoring initiative on the Gulf of California no-take zones, registering 158 vessels presumably fishing in the no-take zones. CONAPESCA made publicly available the 2011 “Fishing in prohibited zone” reports generated by vessel monitoring systems. 295 vessels were reported.
CONAPESCA made publicly available the VMS track records for the Mexican Pacific coast industrial shrimp fleet.
CONAPESCA confirmed the development of the 5-fathom digital “geo-fence” to be incorporated in the vessel monitoring system.
January – March
CONAPESCA made publicly available the 2012 “Fishing in prohibited zone” reports generated by vessel monitoring systems. 80 vessels were reported.
CONAPESCA made publicly available the 5-fathom “geo-fence” files.
The new shrimp fishery regulations, the Mexican Official Standard 002, were published for public consultation. The standard includes:
- Use of bycatch reduction devices
- Use of nets with 120-ft. float line (maximum length)
- Use of 2-inch (minimum mesh size) webbing throughout the net, except in the codend (1½-inch minimum mesh size)
- These requirements will be mandatory/enforceable for 3 years after publication of the new standard
- Optional use of a double lead line.
Click here for a comprehensive description of FIP results