The US Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Supply Chain Roundtable (SR) focuses on monitoring sustainability status and issues in US shrimp fisheries and drives further improvements. The SR is composed of the leading US shrimp processors and distributors.
The SR undertakes improvement actions at a Gulf-wide scale (e.g., improving information on bycatch), while individual FIPs undertake improvement actions at the state or local level (e.g., boat-level gear inspections to ensure that turtle excluder devices are installed properly).
The SR focuses on shrimp fisheries in the US Gulf of Mexico, primarily those targeting white, brown, and pink shrimp. The US shrimp harvest is a relatively small portion of the worldwide production of large shrimp. However, this fishery is a leader in sustainability improvements and demonstrates best practices for wild shrimp fisheries around the world.
The US Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry has made vast improvements over the last 15 years, including stock monitoring, bycatch reduction, area closures, and sea turtle nesting enhancement projects.
5 US Gulf of Mexico Shrimp FIPs
13 Roundtable Participating Companies
96 % US Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Production Improving
- The US Gulf of Mexico Shrimp SR met via webinar on May 4, 2021. The purpose of this meeting was to provide SR participants with an update on 2020-2021 workplan activities and next steps, as well as to discuss funding needs. SFP has facilitated Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery improvement work since 2008 (through FIPs, then the SR) with the support of philanthropic funding. This funding is no longer available, and in order to continue facilitating this Supply Chain Roundtable, SFP requested direct funding from the SR participants. The majority of current SR participants agreed to provide financial support to SFP, making this Supply Chain Roundtable the first 100-percent industry-funded SR. Download the meeting report here.
- In August, the SR approved a letter of support to producers who may be asked to support an ongoing research project to fully identify all bycatch in shrimp trawl samples. Vessels that are selected to carry a federal fisheries observer are being asked to provide freezer space for bycatch samples onboard vessels and in shoreside freezers. The research team has encountered some resistance from vessel owners who don't want to participate and don't understand why this project is needed. The letter was intended to explain that this research project is a direct result of a Bycatch Workshop commissioned by the US Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Supply Chain Roundtable in 2018, and that information resulting from this project will remove one of the last remaining roadblocks to verification of sustainability of the fishery. By the end of October, 10 of 13 SR participants reported that they shared the bycatch identification project letter of support with vessels in their supply chain (Big Easy Foods, Biloxi Freezing and Processing, Cox’s Wholesale Seafood, Dominick’s Seafood, DoRan Seafood, Gulf Pride Enterprises, JBS Packing, Philly Seafood, Sunnyvale Seafood, and Wood’s Fisheries). Of those, seven SR participants reported an estimate of the number of vessels that received the letter, totaling approximately 400 vessels overall. Based on an early report from the bycatch identification project implementers, vessel participation has improved during the third trimester, compared to earlier in the year
Currently, about 7 percent of global large shrimp production is considered sustainable or improving. The large shrimp sector includes farmed shrimp, wild warmwater shrimp, and larger coldwater shrimp such as Argentine red shrimp and spot prawns. Species are typically larger than 100 shrimp per pound in body size. About two-thirds of global large shrimp production is farmed.
Although wild-caught shrimp are not the main source of global supply in the large-shrimp sector, the US Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries (contributing only around 1 percent of global production in the sector) are an important source near the United States, one of the major markets for large shrimp.
Activity & Workplan
For 2020-2021, SFP has advised the Supply Chain Roundtable participants of the following improvement needs:
- Conduct outreach to NOAA requesting continued publication of TED compliance and effectiveness data. 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 December 2018.
- Advocate for a formal Harvest Control Rule. The mid-term FIP audits conducted for the comprehensive Gulf of Mexico Shrimp FIPs flagged the lack of a formal harvest control rule as an additional barrier to MSC certification. Harvest control rules are rules and management actions that are agreed upon in advance, dictating the response to changes in stock status with respect to thresholds (e.g., population becomes overfished or fishing mortality exceeds thresholds). Conduct outreach to the Gulf Council and Shrimp Advisory Panel, requesting that they consider adoption of a formal harvest control rule.
- Improve Observer Data Verification. Fund further comparison of electronic logbook and observer program shrimp catch per unit effort data (e.g., a year-to-year comparison) to improve the verification of accuracy.
- Support Full Bycatch Characterization Project. Provide logistical support in the form of freezer space and transportation of bycatch samples. Send a letter of support for the project to vessel owners, to increase vessel-level willingness to participate in the project.
In September 2020, SR participants approved this 2020-2021 workplan, addressing all of the above-listed improvement needs, and participants committed to undertake at least one of the listed activities.