Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) today released a report about bycatch in the wild shrimp sector which concludes that shrimp trawling accounts for more bycatch volume than any other fishery type but that efforts to reduce bycatch can make a positive difference. The report also highlights risks and considerations for retailers and suppliers who source from global shrimp fisheries.
The report examines 20 bottom trawl fisheries that account annually for approximately 1.1 million metric tons, or nearly one third of the global wild shrimp harvest. The analysis does not include artisanal fisheries, most of which do not have bycatch data. The fisheries were chosen to represent the diversity of this sector and each was rated for 12 criteria grouped into four categories: 1) impacts of bycatch, 2) precautionary management of bycatch, 3) monitoring of bycatch, and 4) enforcement of and compliance with measures intended to limit bycatch. For each criterion, the fishery was rated as “low,” “medium,” or “high” sustainability risk, or as “data deficient”. The report can be found here online. Among the report’s main findings are:
- Warm-water fisheries generally have higher bycatch rates and volumes than cold-water shrimp fisheries. The harvests of the warm-water fisheries included in the report comprised 75% or more bycatch, and the majority of these fisheries have annual bycatch volumes of over 100,000 metric tons.
- Among the cold-water shrimp fisheries sampled, bycatch is generally 10% or less of the harvest and annual bycatch volumes do not exceed 2,500 metric tons.
- More than half of warm-water shrimp fishery volume was rated as high risk or data deficient for the categories analyzed (impacts, management, monitoring, compliance/enforcement). High-volume, multispecies trawl fisheries in Asia contributed prominently to these volumes and information necessary to assess fishery impacts was particularly lacking among warm-water shrimp fisheries.
- Several warm-water shrimp fisheries performed well and received low and medium risk ratings including: Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of California, Northern Australia, and Suriname trawl fisheries.
- Other low and medium risk ratings were attributed to the majority of the cold-water shrimp fishery harvest. Northern prawn fisheries in Atlantic Canada, West Greenland, and the Barents Sea performed well, as did Oregon pink shrimp.
- Fisheries that required use of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) and turtle excluder devices (TEDs) have achieved meaningful reductions in the proportions of their harvests comprising bycatch.
From these findings, the report offers some improvement recommendations to catchers and regulators engaged in shrimp fisheries to reduce bycatch including:
- BRDs should be mandatory by law among all licensed boats and TEDs should be mandatory in warm-water fisheries. Regulators should work closely with scientists and fishery participants to determine which devices are best suited to the fishery and monitor their effectiveness.
- Compliance must be ensured through adequate enforcement, particularly in warm-water fisheries that performed poorly on these criteria.
- Risk assessments should be carried out for bycatch species to determine whether a fishery is depleting or prohibiting the recovery of protected, endangered and threatened (PET) species.
SFP has been involved in shrimp fishery improvement projects (FIPs) in the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico. In June, Mexican fishery management agency CONAPESCA announced implementation measures for the adoption of BRDs in advance of the 2016 mandated deadline. And recently, the state of Louisiana introduced a fishery management plan with stronger bycatch reduction guidelines including increased enforcement of BRDs and TEDs. Kathryn Novak, Director of Buyer Engagement for SFP notes, “The seafood supply chain can play an important role in reducing bycatch in the shrimp industry by supporting fishery improvement projects that aim to modify fishing gear and practices. We hope to see the bycatch situation improve as engagement in the shrimp sector grows. ”SFP periodically publishes reports about the major seafood sectors based on data from www.Fishsource.com, an online database.