White Shrimp

White Shrimp
Common Name White Shrimp
Scientific name (Lito) Penaeus setiferous

Sourcing Summary

Size

4-8 in.

U.S. white shrimp are caught from August to November, and are usually available frozen as tail meat year-round. White shrimp is low in saturated fat and is a very good source of selenium and vitamin B12. Random tests are recommended to ensure that the shrimp that arrives is actually what was ordered. Buyer Beware: Most shrimp is treated with the preservative sodium tripolyphosphate, but too much will make the shrimp appear translucent and give them a soapy feel. Buyers recommend asking for specific moisture content since processors sometimes undercook the shrimp to increase weight. Many fishermen prevent black spots on shells by using bisodium sulfates but overuse causes pitting on the shells.

Based on average landings of white shrimp (Penaeus setiferous) from 2012-2014 and using 2016 Seafood Watch ratings, the sustainability breakdown of white shrimp is as follows:

  • ~2/3 of landings are "Good Alternative (yellow)" 
  • ~1/3 of landings are "Avoid (red)" (nearly all from Louisiana)
  • ~1% of landings are unrated (from Mexico)
     

Within the landings for the U.S. that meet  a "Good Alternative" recommendation, the breakdown by states are: Louisiana ~45%, Texas ~30%, and remaining Gulf and South Atlantic states 2-5%. Landings from Louisiana are nearly split 50/50 when it comes to "Good Alternative" and "Avoid" ratings.

Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Head-on
Tails (shell on)
Fresh/Frozen
Frozen
Product Forms
Head-on
Tails (butterflied)
Tails (EZ-Peel)
Tails (P&D)
Tails (PUD)
Tails (raw)
Tails (shell on)

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
nonononoyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

Culinary Composition

Sweet

Flavor

Medium

Texture

Cooking Methods

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 106
Total Fat 1.73g
Cholesterol 152mg
Sodium 148mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 20.3

Biology

White shrimp can live up to four years old, though most don’t survive to two years. Juvenile white shrimp grow and molt quickly in estuaries during late spring and summer in temperatures warmer than 18 degrees Celsius. This growth rate decreases in the cooler fall and winter months. Temperatures colder than eight degrees Celsius can be critically dangerous for these populations, and temperatures at three degrees Celsius or colder is fatal. 

Females grow larger than males, typically up to eight inches in length. Males can grow up to seven inches in length. Both males and females mature at about five inches in length. The antennae of white shrimp tends to be longer than that of other shrimp species, growing up to three times longer than the rest of their body length. White shrimp have ten long walking legs and five pairs of shorter swimming legs.

Spawning behavior is initiated by an increase in offshore bottom water temperatures, and can occur through May to September. Up to one million eggs are released per spawn. Eggs are then fertilized and sink to the bottom of the water column – hatching within 10-12 hours after fertilization. White shrimp remain as larvae for 10 days, where they then enter estuarine nursery habitats to live and grow before migrating to the ocean in the spring.

Larvae feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton. Juvenile and adult white shrimp feed on detritus, plants, microorganisms, small fish, and small invertebrates. Sheepshead minnows, water boatmen, and insect larvae eat larval shrimp. Grass shrimp, killifishes, and blue crabs prey on young shrimp. Many finfish feed on juvenile and adult white shrimp.

Species Habitat

White shrimp are found along the Atlantic Coast of North America from Fire Island, New York to St. Lucie Inlet, Florida. In the Gulf of Mexico, they are found from the Ochlockonee River, Florida to Campeche, Mexico – with their greatest abundance being in the Mississippi River Delta of Louisiana. White shrimp inhabit estuaries, marshes, and coastal areas generally to about 100 feet offshore. Juveniles live and grow in protected nursery areas with muddy ocean bottoms and low to moderate salinity. As they grow older, white shrimp move further offshore where they will spawn. Though white shrimp generally occur higher in the water column, they have also been found in association with other shrimp species – particularly brown shrimp.

Science & Management

Wild
Science

The Annual Economic Survey of Federal Gulf and Atlantic Shrimp Permit Holders conducts research about operating expenses and costs of owning and maintaining shrimp vessels. The information is gathered in order to assess trends in the financial and economic state of the shrimp fisheries, and the economic and social effects of regulations on these fisheries. The Gulf Shrimp System provides an overview of procedures used to collect fishery statistics for the shrimp fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. The end goal is to provide catch, value, area caught, and effort data for commercial fishing trips.

Management

NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the US Atlantic white shrimp fishery under the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP and its amendments:

Establish a permitting system for the harvest of shrimp in federal waters

Requires fishers to submit reports for each trip

Requires fishery observers to be onboard fishing vessels (if selected) to collect data on catch, bycatch, gear, and fishing effort

White shrimp are relatively short-lived can be particularly impacted by severe cold weather during the winter months along the South Atlantic. As such, fishery managers establish catch limits based on historic harvest amounts and fishing effort – rather than on abundance. Stocks can be periodically decimated by cold weather snaps in the South Atlantic, especially in South Carolina and Georgia. When this occurs, the FMP allows individual states to close the shrimp fishery in their waters – as well as in adjacent federal waters – to protect the remaining populations.

NOAA Fisheries and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manage the white shrimp fishery in the Gulf of Mexico under the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The majority of white shrimp harvested in the United States (96 percent in 2014) come from the Gulf of Mexico – particularly from Louisiana and Texas. Implemented in 1981, the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp FMP and its amendments:

Establishes a permitting system for the harvest of shrimp in federal waters (currently no new permits are being issued to limit the number of boats participating in the fishery)

Requires fishers to install electronic logbooks and to submit trip reports for each fishing trip

Establishes an observer program where observers must be aboard vessels (if selected) to collect data on catch, bycatch, gear, and fishing effort

Sets a seasonal, 45 day shrimping closure in the federal waters off Texas (from mid-May to mid-July) to protect brown shrimp populations

Establishes a cooperative Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary in Florida where trawling is off limits and sets seasonal closures in Florida Bay to avoid conflict with stone crab fishing

All states enforce federal requirements mandating that otter trawl vessels have and use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to reduce bycatch of threatened and endangered sea turtles and other species of concern. Federal TED regulations apply to all state-managed waters as well. In Florida, skimmer trawl vessels are also required to use TEDs; however, TEDs are not required on skimmer trawl vessels in the other Gulf Coast states (Texas does not allow the use of skimmer trawls). Currently, the only mitigation strategy to reduce sea turtle bycatch in skimmer trawls is through limits on tow time. In regards to bycatch of finfish, Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) are required in the state waters of Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. BRDs are not required in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In some areas, closures may be instituted if finfish bycatch exceeds certain thresholds.

US shrimp fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic are considered to be both region’s largest and most valuable commercial fisheries. According to a 2015 stock assessment, the white shrimp stocks in both the US Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic are not overfished, nor subject to overfishing.

In Mexico, the white shrimp fishery is managed by a network of federal agencies including: the Secretaría de Agrucultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA, the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food), the Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (CONAPESCA, the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries), and the Instituto Nacional de Pesca (INAPESCA, National Fisheries Institute). These agencies employ management measures such as closed seasons, gear modification, and bycatch reduction programs. Despite management efforts, the white shrimp fishery in Mexico is depleted and it is unclear if measures to reduce bycatch are effective. Noncompliance amongst fishers in regards to gear restrictions and seasonal closures, as well as illegal fishing, further limit rebuilding efforts. 

Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

White shrimp are highly fecund and can grow fairly quickly, allowing them to rebound quickly from unfavorable environmental conditions such as extreme cold weather. The population levels of white shrimp, which are particularly abundant in the Gulf of Mexico, are high and overfishing is not occurring, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. They thrive in marshy, estuary-filled areas and are found higher in the water column than brown and pink shrimp.

Habitat impacts ( Wild)

Although fishermen use a variety of gear to catch white shrimp, the otter trawl is the most common. Since this gear is meant to maximize contact with the ocean bottom, it can harm marine organisms, damage the seafloor, disturb sediment, lower sea grass production, and cause an increase in algal blooms. Trawling also occurs in the same areas annually. Overall, the effects of trawling on the habitat are a moderate concern in this fishery.

Bycatch

Thousands of sea turtles are caught in shrimp trawls annually in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Since shrimping trawlers interact with sea turtles so much, U.S. shrimpers are required to have turtle extruder devices (TEDs). Compliance varies but is good in the southeast Atlantic coast shrimp fishery, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. The white shrimp fishery also contributes to mortality in Gulf of Mexico red snapper, which has been overfished for decades. Other species of concern include endangered smalltooth sawfish, endangered Atlantic sturgeon and overfished blacknosed shark.

Management effectiveness

Commercial shrimp fisheries are working on reducing bycatch impact through time-area closures and bycatch reduction devices, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. The white shrimp fishery abundance is monitored by the NMFS. Despite management efforts in the shrimp fisheries, bycatch continues to greatly outweigh shrimp landings. Bycatch reduction methods depend on compliance, which is not at 100%.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Origin Method Ratings
All Other Origins All Other Fishing Methods    
Mexico - Gulf of Mexico Artisanal Bottom Trawl  
Mexico - Gulf of Mexico Artisanal Entanglement Net  
Mexico - Gulf of Mexico Artisanal Suripera Net  
Mexico - Gulf of Mexico Bottom Trawl  
Mexico - Pacific Artisanal Entanglement Net  
Mexico - Pacific Artisanal Suripera Net  
Mexico - Pacific Bottom Trawl  
Mexico - Pacific Artisanal Bottom Trawl  
USA Ponds    
USA All Other Farming Methods    
USA - Florida Skimmer Trawl    
USA - Gulf of Mexico Bottom Trawl    
USA - Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl    
USA - South Atlantic Bottom Trawl    
Name Country State / Province
Anna Marie Seafood United States Louisiana
Baton Rouge Shrimp Company, Inc. United States Louisiana
Bon Secour Fisheries, Inc. United States Alabama
Cape Canaveral Shrimp Co. United States Florida
Carson & Company Inc United States Alabama
Cherry Point Seafoods United States South Carolina
Core Sound Seafood United States North Carolina
Crimson Bay Seafood United States Alabama
Dubberly's Seafood United States Georgia
Georgia Shrimp Association United States Georgia
International Oceanic Enterprises, Inc. United States Alabama
Katie's Seafood Market United States Texas
Livingston's Bulls Bay Seafood United States South Carolina
Lowcountry Catch United States South Carolina
Mama's Pickled Shrimp United States South Carolina
McRoberts Sales Co., Inc. United States Florida
Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC United States Washington
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Palomino Foods, Inc. United States Washington
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Safe Harbor Seafood Market United States Florida
Santa Monica Seafood, Inc. United States California
Sarasota Seafood Company United States Florida
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Sustainable Sea Products International United States Maryland
Triar Seafood Company United States Florida
Water Street Seafood, Inc United States Florida
Western Seafood Co., Inc. United States Texas
Wild Fish Direct LLC United States Florida
Wild Woman Fish Co. United States Colorado
Wood's Fisheries, Inc. United States Florida