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MARKET REPORT | BUYING TIPS | HEALTH / NUTRITION
Following a mediocre brown shrimp fishery so far this summer, shrimpers on the Gulf of Mexico are hoping for a better white shrimp season late this summer and into the fall. Rain and colder than normal weather are blamed for the lackluster brown season, but a hot summer has resulted in a good showing of white shrimp larvae in the Louisiana marshes. Gulf shrimpers typically land between 50,000 to 60,000 metric tons of white shrimp a year (heads-off weight), with about half the total being landed by Louisiana boats. Fishing for whites picks up in August and typically landings peak in October, when fishermen monthly landings can reach 10,000 metric tons.
Even if white shrimp catches are lower than normal, Gulf shrimpers will have little to complain about. Prices for Gulf shrimp remain at record levels due to the overall robust demand for shrimp. Even though increased shrimp imports from Ecuador and India have more than made up for the continuing sharp decline in imports from Thailand, traditionally the largest source of white shrimp for the U.S. market, demand for shrimp has kept prices surprisingly high.
In late July, the price to distributors for frozen 21/25 shell-on Gulf white tails passed $9/lb. for the first time in anyone’s memory. That’s more than $3/lb. more than distributors were paying last July. If shrimping is good, look for prices to ease in August as the high prices will no doubt slow demand sooner or later.
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.
fresh & frozen products
White shrimp may be used as a substitute for imported shrimp.
There are no food safety or contaminant concerns with white shrimp.
FISHERY IMPACTS ON STOCK | HABITAT IMPACTS | BYCATCH | MANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS
Fishery Impacts 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.
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, according to the Blue Ocean Institute. Overall, the effects of trawling on the habitat are a moderate concern in this fishery.
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.
Louisiana does not enforce federal turtle extruder device requirements so compliance is voluntary. As a result, Seafood Watch has advised consumers to avoid buying shrimp from the state. 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%.
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