Last Update: October 2017
The Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry has made vast improvements in sustainability over the last 15 years, including stock monitoring, bycatch reduction, area closures, and sea turtle nesting enhancement projects, but there are still areas for improvements in sustainability. The Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Supply Chain Roundtable focuses on monitoring sustainability status and issues in US shrimp fisheries and pushes for improvements where they are needed.
Supplier Roundtable Participants:
Bayou Shrimp Processors, Inc.
Big Easy Foods
Biloxi Freezing & Processing Inc.
Bluewater Shrimp Company, Inc.
Captain's Fine Foods
Cox's Wholesale Seafood
Galveston Shrimp Company
Paul Piazza & Son, Inc.
Fisheries and/or FIPs Covered:
This roundtable focuses on shrimp fisheries in the US Gulf of Mexico, primarily those targeting white, brown, and pink shrimp.
The following FIPs and Marine Advancement Plans (MAPs) are supported and monitored:
For more details on the sustainability status of the fisheries, progress of the FIPs, and improvement recommendations, please follow this link.
Improvement Needs and Recommendations:
1. Evaluate the Gulf of Mexico shrimp observer program. Coverage levels in the Gulf of Mexico shrimp observer program are low and it is unclear if this coverage level is providing statistically robust bycatch data.
2. TED Compliance and Effectiveness data are out of date. TED Compliance and Effectiveness data are posted on the NOAA Southeast Regional Office's Sea Turtle Protection and Shrimp Fisheries webpage, but have not been updated since February 2016.
3. Lack of liability insurance coverage for vessels carrying federally mandated observers. Members of the shrimp industry have voiced concerns regarding the lack of liability insurance coverage in the federal observer program. This is causing some vessels to refuse to carry observers, which on a large scale could compromise the statistical design of the observer program.
Action Recommendations for Suppliers:
1. Continue the dialogue established with NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center regarding the statistical robustness of the shrimp observer program.
2. Send a letter to the NOAA Southeast Regional Office requesting a public update of the Sea Turtle Capture Rates and TED Effectiveness data.
3. Consider potential actions the SR can undertake to address the lack of liability coverage for boats carrying government-mandated observers.
4. Monitor ongoing progress on ecosystem-based fishery management in the Gulf of Mexico by the Gulf Council and NOAA.
SFP’s general objectives for this roundtable are to provide a platform for the seafood supply chain to oversee shrimp fishery improvement projects (FIPs) throughout the Gulf of Mexico, learn from each other’s experience and develop best practices, and cooperate to apply leverage to drive further improvements. For 2017, the Supply Chain Roundtable participants agreed to undertake the above four action recommendations as the current objectives of the SR.
- Roundtable initiated during Seafood Expo North America in March. SFP presented an update on the sustainability of the US Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries. Representatives of shrimp FIPs presented updates on their work. Texas Sea Grant gave an overview of their new TED evaluation and training program. (see Meeting Notes, Presentation)
- SFP presented a webinar for Supplier Roundtable participants in June. The webinar reviewed the results of the Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation (impacts of the shrimp fishery on endangered and threatened species; presentation) and SFP presented the 2014 Shrimp Procurement Recommendations.
- SFP released public FIP ratings in December. SFP's Florida Pink Shrimp and Texas Shrimp FIPs received "A" (Exceptional Progress) ratings due to gear evaluations performed by FIP participants' supplier vessels and the results of the bycatch status study commissioned by these FIPs. SFP's Louisiana Shrimp FIP received a "B" (Good Progress) rating due to the decline in Gulf shrimp fishery bycatch reported in December 2012 and progress on FIP activities reported in 2014. Wood's Fisheries Florida Shrimp received an "E" (Negligible Progress) rating due to a lack of publicly reported impacts.
- The Supply Chain Roundtable met during the Seafood Summit in New Orleans in February to review FIP progress and discuss further improvements needed in Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries. The SR participants agreed to reach out to the NOAA Observer Program regarding shrimp fishery observer coverage levels and whether the program is generating statistically robust data. (Meeting Notes)
- The SR met via conference call in November to review FIP progress and TED compliance data. SR participants also discussed the content of a letter being developed from the SR to the NOAA Observer Program regarding program design and data quality. The letter, available here, was sent to the Observer Program in December. (Meeting Report)
- The Supply Chain Roundtable met in March in Boston during Seafood Expo North America. The SR participants agreed to continue working together in 2016 on issues that affect the entire Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry, while individual FIPs address local issues. The joint tasks will include 1) observer program evaluation and 2) ecosystem based fishery management. All participants and SFP agreed to this Statement of Work. (Meeting Report)
- In July 2016, the Texas Shrimp FIP leadership transitioned from SFP to Audubon Nature Institute and was renamed the Texas Shrimp MAP (Marine Advancement Plan) to coordinate with their other projects. Audubon Nature Institute also launched the Mississippi Shrimp MAP, which has been added to the list of FIPs that this SR will monitor.
- The SR met in July via conference call to review progress in FIPs and discuss improvement actions to be taken by the SR participants. (Meeting Notes)
- In August 2016, the SR participants emailed a letter to the NOAA shrimp observer program inquiring about the status of data generated by the observer program and whether any review of the data is underway. No response was received and the communication was sent again in November.
- In August 2016, the SR participants sent a letter to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council inquiring about any recent progress on the ecosystem-based management plan for the Gulf of Mexico. A response was received from the Gulf Council in September, referencing ongoing work by NOAA Fisheries and explaining that the Council is no longer pursuing a comprehensive ecosystem-based fishery management plan but is instead attempting to integrate ecosystem-based fishery management into the existing species-specific fishery management. The SR participants sent a follow-up letter to the Gulf Council, requesting that the Council include a section on ecosystem-based fishery management in Shrimp Amendment 17B. This section would review currently available information on the status of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and describe how ecosystem-based fishery management is being applied in the shrimp fishery. A response was received in December explaining that an ecosystem-based fishery management section would be out of the scope of a single fishery amendment, but that the Council staff will be developing a fishery ecosystem plan for consideration by the Council in 2017 or 2018. The letter also noted that the NMFS Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Status Report should be updated in the coming year.
- A response from the NOAA shrimp observer program was received in early January, requesting a conference call to discuss the questions posed in the August 2016 letter. The call occurred later that month and was attended by representatives of the SR, SFP, and the NOAA Galveston Lab (which coordinates the observer program). From the call, the SR learned that 1) NOAA has no plans to perform a statistical evaluation of the shrimp observer program; 2) NOAA intends to continue evaluating the coefficient of variation for only a select group of managed species, and not for aggregate shrimp bycatch; 3) the observer program staff do not believe that current electronic monitoring technology could be used to monitor overall shrimp bycatch; and 4) additional funds to expand the shrimp trawl observer program from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resources Damage Assessment will likely be used in the offshore trawl fishery. The NOAA Galveston Lab staff recommended that further inquiries regarding a statistical evaluation of the shrimp observer program should be directed to the Southeast Fishery Science Center, which controls staff time and budget allocations.
- In February, the SR sent a letter to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center inquiring if there were plans to perform an evaluation of the shrimp observer program as recommended in the 2016 National Bycatch Reduction Strategy. A response was received in March, indicating that a new edition of the National Bycatch Report is due to be released later in 2017 and that it will contain an updated evaluation of the Tier Level Classifications and analysis of discard data adequacy from the observer program.
- In March, the SR met in Boston during Seafood Expo North America. The SR participants agreed to continue working together in 2017 on issues that affect the entire Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry, while individual FIPs continue to address local issues. The joint tasks will include 1) observer program evaluation, 2) public posting of TED compliance and effectiveness information, and 3) issues raised by the industry due to the lack of liability coverage for boats carrying government-mandated observers. All participants and SFP agreed to this Statement of Work. (Meeting Report)
- Following the SR meeting in Boston, three new companies (Bayou Shrimp Processors, Bluewater Shrimp Company, and Philly Seafood) joined the SR as participants.
- In May, the SR sent a new letter to SERO regarding the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Observer program evaluation and proposed further dialogue between key players.
- Just as the SR participants were finalizing a letter to NOAA regarding the TED compliance data, NOAA posted an update of TED compliance rates and estimated sea turtle capture rates on their website. The results were very positive (TED compliance remains high, even as the number of inspections increases) and the SR decided not to send the letter, but to continue to monitor the situation.
If you would like more information about the roundtable or wish to support it, please contact SFP.