Gulf of Mexico Louisiana Shrimp
Fishery Improvement Project

Archive Date: August 2015

 

The Louisiana Shrimp FIP was transitioned from SFP to the Audubon Nature Institute in August 2015.  The following FIP report reflects the status of the FIP at the time of transition.  Audubon's public report will be found at http://audubongulf.org.

Species:

white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus)
brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus)
 
FIP Scope/Scale: Fishery level
 
Fishery Location: Louisiana state and federal waters in the US Gulf of Mexico
 
FIP Contact: If you would like more information about the FIP or wish to support the FIP, please contact SFP.
 
FIP Participants:
 
Sustainability Information:
See Sustainability Info tab in FishSource:
white shrimp - Louisiana-otter trawl, Louisiana-skimmer trawl, federal waters
 
See also information in Monterey Bay-Seafood WatchGreenpeace-Red List Fish
 
Date Publicly Announced: 2010
 
FIP Stage: 5, improvements in the water
 
Current Improvement Recommendations:
  • Create a Louisiana state Fishery Management Plan (FMP)
     
  • Release information on shrimp fishery bycatch (all gears) in state waters, including sea turtle interactions 
     
  • Release state fishery enforcement and compliance information                           
Background:
The commercial shrimp fishery is one of the most economically important fisheries in the southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, white shrimp landings in Louisiana were nearly 26 thousand metric tons (over 57 million pounds) while brown shrimp landings were nearly 18 thousand metric tons (over 39 million pounds). Approximately 70 percent of Louisiana’s shrimp landings are from state waters. Nearly all of the shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico are consumed in the US and they account for only about 10 percent of national consumption, with the rest coming mainly from farmed, imported shrimp.
 
In Louisiana, the primary gears used to harvest shrimp are otter and skimmer trawls (otter trawls are essentially the sole type of gear used in federal waters, while skimmer trawls are commonly used in state waters).  Fishermen may also use wing nets (butterfly nets), pusher-head trawls (chopstick rigs), stationary butterfly nets, roller-frame trawls, and cast nets in state waters. Vessels fishing with otter trawls are required to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in all federal and state waters; however, Louisiana currently has a state law that prohibits state law enforcement agents from enforcing turtle excluder device (TED) regulations. This federal regulation is still enforced by federal law enforcement agents and the Coast Guard and, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), if LDWF agents notice a TED violation in state waters they will report it to a federal enforcement agent. Skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and butterfly trawls are not required to use TEDs if they limit tow times to 55 minutes. Recent research suggests that there is low compliance with tow time limits and that skimmer trawls are catching juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. The federal government is currently researching turtle bycatch in skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and butterfly trawls and considering alternatives to reduce this turtle bycatch. This regulation is difficult to enforce and compliance is not well documented. Bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) are also required in federal waters; however, they are not required in state waters of Louisiana.
 
While both a traditional economic engine in the coastal communities of the Gulf of Mexico and a major supplier of shrimp to many markets, the shrimp fishery has also had to deal with environmental implications of its harvesting methodology. A number of improvements have been made to reduce the impact of the shrimp fishery on the environment, including mandatory TEDs and BRDs in federal waters, area closures, and sea turtle nesting enhancement projects, but there are still areas for improvements in sustainability.
 
An additional complication for the Louisiana shrimp fishery is the difference in management strategies and information between Louisiana state and US federal management systems. As such, the fisheries in state waters and federal waters were reviewed in separate certification pre-assessments, yielding very different results. The pre-assessment of the fishery in state waters was generally inconclusive because of the lack of publicly available information on status, management, and ecosystem effects within the state’s jurisdiction. 
 
The initial activities in this FIP are for LDWF to compile and make public as much information as possible about the management strategies and techniques used in Louisiana’s state fisheries management and release as much information as possible pertaining to bycatch and protected species interactions as possible. Many of these tasks will be accomplished in the form of a new shrimp fishery management plan to be developed in 2013/2014, with some items released more quickly. After this information is released the FIP participants will be better able to identify further areas for improvement.
 
 
FIP Objectives:
  • LDWF will create a Fishery Management Plan. The FMP will include the following information: how shrimp fisheries are monitored and managed in Louisiana state waters; stock assessment of shrimp; information on bycatch and retained species; habitat effects; ecosystem management; long-term objectives and research needs; regulatory processes and enforcement effectiveness. 
  • LDWF will compile information on sea turtles in state waters and release this information when allowed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation. 
  • Release information on the state fishery enforcement system including an evaluation of the system and summarized compliance and enforcement data.
Progress Update:
 
2012
  • NMFS published a proposed rule that would require all shrimp trawls, including skimmer nets and butterfly trawls, to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in their nets. This proposed rule was later withdrawn because research indicated that the current TED designs would not effectively exclude the most commonly captured turtles (juveniles Kemp’s ridley) in these gears. The federal government began further research on turtle bycatch in skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing nets and alternatives to reduce this turtle bycatch.

  • National Fish & Seafood, the first FIP participant, reached out to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF) to gain a better understanding of the management of the Louisiana shrimp fishery and to inquire about any existing sustainability assessments that have been completed. LDWF reviewed results of the shrimp sustainability assessments at the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force in July 2012, after which LDWF agreed to work with SFP to facilitate this FIP. Fishery stakeholders, including representatives from National Fish and Seafood, Big Easy Foods, Paul Piazza & Son, the American Shrimp Processor Association, the Louisiana Shrimpers Association, and Louisiana Shrimp Task Force met in Houma, LA, in November 2012 to further review the sustainability evaluations and develop preliminary actions for a FIP workplan. The general consensus at this meeting was that the first activities in the FIP should be for LDWF to compile and make public as much information as possible about the management strategies and techniques used in Louisiana’s state fisheries management and release as much information pertaining to bycatch and protected species interactions as possible. Following the meeting, LDWF began development of the FIP workplan and committed to develop a fishery management plan.

  • In May, the federal government issued a Biological Opinion under the Endangered Species Act that established a system to measure and monitor the actual performance of shrimp otter trawls in releasing sea turtles. This new fleet-wide TED performance standard limits the otter trawl fishery to an overall 12-percent sea turtle capture rate12 percent of sea turtles that enter shrimp nets are captured, while 88 percent escape through the TED). The system became effective June 1, 2012. Under these new requirements, NOAA Fisheries is using detailed data on the type and severity of TED violations to estimate sea turtle capture rates. While this system was being implemented, the government began to post TED inspection and compliance information on the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office sea turtle/shrimp fishery website. The October 2012 report indicated that compliance with federal TED regulations during October 2011–September 2012 was 75 percent. This represents an increase from the 66-percent compliance rate during May–November 2011. 

  • Gulf Council scientists and managers adopted new stock assessment models for shrimp. The assessments indicated that Gulf of Mexico brown, white, and pink shrimp stocks are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. A study by Scott-Denton et al. was published in Marine Fisheries Review (Volume 74, Issue 4) indicating that bycatch-to-shrimp ratio in the Gulf of Mexico decreased to 2.5:1, while the finfish-to-shrimp ratio decreased to 2:1. 
 

2013
  • Gulf Island Shrimp (a division of Big Easy Foods) joined the FIP. 
  • In February, NOAA Fisheries announced the results of the first 6 months of the new fleet-wide TED compliance and performance monitoring. The results indicated that from June through November 2012 about 13% of the turtles that encountered otter trawls were captured, while the remainder escaped via the TEDs. This is a 1-percent increase over the estimated sea turtle capture rate during August–November 2011. NOAA Fisheries is holding informal training and courtesy dockside inspections throughout each region to assist fishermen in complying with the TED regulations in order to reduce the sea turtle capture to 12-percent or below in the next 6-month review (December–May 2012). 
  • Paul Piazza & Son, Inc. and Tommy’s Seafood, Inc., joined the FIP.
  • LDWF published Management and Enforcement Reports (completing two FIP tasks) on the Shrimp Task Force website.

2014 

  • The Fishery Management Plan (FMP) initially was on track to be released mid-year, but was subsequently delayed due to work on the Blue Crab FMP.  LDWF now expects to complete the Shrimp FMP in December 2014 or January 2015.
  • A plan to transition this FIP to third-party leadership has been established.  After the current workplan activities are completed (expected in late 2014 or early 2015, when the FMP is published), SFP will transition leadership of the FIP to the Audubon Nature Institute’s G.U.L.F. (Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries) program. G.U.L.F., as a locally operated organization with strong ties to the local shrimp industry, is well equipped to lead these improvement efforts. G.U.L.F. will post a public report for the FIP and will convene FIP participants and other stakeholders to develop a new workplan.
  • The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries released a document on sea turtles in Louisiana (completed a FIP task) in December.  This document has been posted to the FIP report here.
 
 2015 
 
January – April
 
  • The FMP publication was delayed from January until March, but then again pushed back to April.
  • NOAA Fisheries posted an updated TED inspection and compliance report indicating that fleet-wide compliance with federal TED regulations during April 2014–January 2015 ranged from 71 to 100 percent. Resulting sea turtle capture rates were estimated to range from 3 to 14% (legal threshold is 12%).
 May – August
  • The Louisiana Shrimp FMP was published in May 2015.  It was updated in July 2015 after the Louisiana legislature passed and the governor signed a bill repealing the prohibition on TED law enforcement by state agents.
     
  • Upon the completion of the 2012–2015 workplan, the FIP was transitioned to Audubon Nature Institute, who will lead the next phase of this project as a Marine Advancement Plan.  A transition meeting was held in New Orleans in August 2015 and stakeholders were invited to attend and give input on next steps.  Recommendations include updating the fishery evaluation based on the new FMP and posting a new workplan by the end of the year. Audubon's public report will be found at http://audubongulf.org.
     

Gulf of Mexico - Louisiana Shrimp FIP Detailed Information

 
 
Fishery Problem
 
Summary of fishery status: 
 
SFP own estimate, based on data from FishSource
 
i.  Current status (2015)
 
1.  Governance Quality: Federal fishery managers have control rules, based on Maximum Sustainable Yield, in place in the event of overfishing. Non-compliance with TED regulations was higher than anticipated in 2010 and 2011 but increased enforcement and outreach have improved compliance rates to more acceptable levels. 
 
2.  Target Stock: Shrimp populations are considered healthy. Offshore shrimping effort has declined substantiality in recent years and is now capped at an appropriate level.
 
3.  Environmental Impacts: 2.5 pounds of bycatch are caught for every 1 pound of shrimp harvested (a higher bycatch ratio than any other trawl fishery in the US); there is little monitoring of proper gear installation; there is only 1-2% observer coverage (5% is recommended). TEDs are not required in some gears used to harvest shrimp from state waters. BRDs are not required in state waters.  New, more effective BRDs requiredin federal waters and the decline in shrimping effort have reduced red snapper bycatch to the extent required by the red snapper rebuilding plan; less effective bycatch reduction devices have been decertified.
                                            
ii.     Status at beginning of FIP (2008)
 
1. Governance Quality: Federal fishery managers have control rules, based on Maximum Sustainable Yield, in place in the event of overfishing. Louisiana has a state law prohibiting state law enforcement agents from enforcing TED regulations.
 
2.  Target Stock: Shrimp populations are considered healthy. The fishery is overcapitalized but there have been declines in effort due to low prices/competition from imports, high fuel costs, and loss of infrastructure.
 
3.  Environmental Impacts: 4 pounds of bycatch are caught for every 1 pound of shrimp harvested; fishery has very low observer coverage (1%). TEDs are not required in some gears used to harvest shrimp from state waters. BRDs are not required in state waters.  Bycatch of juvenile red snapper is hindering rebuilding of that population and the currently approved bycatch reduction devices (required in federal waters) do not provide high enough levels of red snapper exclusion.
                         
Other ranking systems
 
 
Louisiana White Shrimp 
Louisiana Brown Shrimp
Status at the beginning of FIP
Current Status
Status at the beginning of FIP
Current Status
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Good Alternative
Good Alternative

 

FIP Progress Update

Results/FIP Stage
Indicator of Success
Scope/
Scale
 
 
Specific
Details
Date Achieved
List of Suppliers/
Organizations
 
Source
 
FIP is launched (Stage 1)
Sustainability evaluation publicly available
Fishery level
MSC pre-assessments for both state and federal waters
2010
LDWF
SFP
For state waters contact Rene LeBreton, LDWF, RLeBreton@wlf.la.gov; for federal waters contact SFP 
 
Best practices guidance publicly available
Fishery level
Gulf of Mexico shrimp procurement recommendations are on SFP’s web site.
2013
SFP
Fisheries improvement recommendations publicly available
Fishery level
FIP described on SFP website
 
2011
SFP
FIP is formed (Stage 2)
Suppliers are organized
Supplier level
To identify other potential FIP participants and better understand the fishery, a pre-improvement plan was developed by National Fish and meetings arranged
July 2012
 
National Fish & Seafood
 
Big Easy Foods joined the FIP under their Gulf Island Shrimp brand
February 2013
 
Gulf Island Shrimp
 
 
Paul Piazza & Son, Inc. joined the FIP
April 2013
Paul Piazza & Son, Inc.
 
 
Tommy’s Seafood, Inc., joined the FIP
May 2013
Tommy’s Seafood, Inc.
 
Suppliers are evaluating this fishery
Fishery level
Same as above
 
 
 
FIP is encouraging improvements (Stage 3)
 
Workplan with annual improvement milestones publicly available
Supplier level
2013 public workplan approved by participants and posted on SFP website (no changes to workplan in 2014 or 2015)
February 2013
LDWF
National Fish & Seafood
Gulf Island Shrimp
 
Suppliers are engaging regulators
Fishery level
In response to requests from regional suppliers, LDWF reviewed MSC pre-assessments at Shrimp Task Force meeting and considered next steps to engage in FIP 
  
July 2012
National Fish, LDWF
 
Fishery stakeholders reviewed the sustainability evaluations and developed preliminary actions for a FIP workplan
 
November 2012
 
SFP, LDWF, National Fish and Seafood,
Gulf Island Shrimp, Paul Piazza and Son, other stakeholders
 
 
"LDWF Management Report" and "LDWF Enforcement Report" are posted to the Shrimp Task Force website
August 2013
LDWF
LDWF releases document on sea turtles in state waters
December 2014
LDWF
Improvement in policies or practices (Stage 4)
Fishery is achieving
agreed annual improvement milestones
Fishery level
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TED inspection and compliance report posted to SERO website
July 2012
 
NOAA Fisheries
 
 
Newly approved stock assessment models indicate that Gulf of Mexico brown, white, and pink shrimp stocks are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring
October 2012
NOAA Fisheries
Fisheries policy changed
Fishery level
NOAA Fisheries established a new fleet-wide TED performance standard which limits the shrimp otter trawl fleet to an overall 12-percent sea turtle capture rate
May 2012
NOAA Fisheries
LDWF publishes the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan
May 2015
LDWF
The Louisiana legislature passes and the governor signs a bill repealing the prohibition of TED regulation enforcement by state agents (effective August 1, 2015)
July 2015
Louisiana legislature and governor
Fisheries practices changed
Fishery level
NOAA Fisheries posted an updated TED inspection and compliance report indicating that fleet-wide compliance with federal TED regulations during October 2011–September 2012 was 75 percent (an increase from the 66-percent compliance rate during May–November 2011)
October 2012
US shrimp fleet
 
 
 
NOAA Fisheries posted an updated TED inspection and compliance report indicating that fleet-wide compliance with federal TED regulations during April 2014–January 2015 ranged from 71 to 100 percent. Resulting sea turtle capture rates were estimated to range from 3 to 14% (legal threshold is 12%).
March 2015
NOAA Fisheries
Improvements in the water (Stage 5)
Bycatch has declined
Fishery level
A scientific study was published indicating that the bycatch-to-shrimp ratio in the Gulf of Mexico has decreased to 2.5:1, while the finfish-to-shrimp ratio has decreased to 2:1
December 2012
Scott-Denton et al.