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Shrimp, Pink (Farfantepenaeus duorarum)
Also known as: Brown spotted shrimp, Green shrimp, Grooved shrimp, Hopper, Pink night shrimp, Pink spotted shrimp, Pushed shrimp, Red shrimp, Skipper, Spotted shrimp
Source: Wild-caught in Gulf state waters from West Florida to Texas

Pink shrimp are found in the western Atlantic from the Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Keys, and throughout the northern Gulf to the Yucatan in Mexico. They’re most abundant off southwestern Florida and the southeastern Gulf of Campeche. Young pink shrimp live in estuarine areas with marsh grasses that provide food and shelter. As they grow, they migrate seaward to deeper, saltier water. They travel primarily at night and bury themselves in the bottom substrate during the day. Adult pink shrimp are commonly found on sand, sand-shell, or coral-mud bottoms.

Pink shrimp grow fast, mature in their first year of life, and reproduce quickly and abundantly. They have a short life span, usually less than two years, essentially making them an “annual crop.” These unique biological characteristics make them more resilient to fishing pressure.

Off Florida, where they’re most abundant, pink shrimp spawn in the open waters of the Gulf from April through July when the water is warmest. Females typically release about 500,000 to one million eggs near the ocean floor. Propelled by currents, newly hatched shrimp travel to their estuarine nursery habitats in late spring and early summer to feed and grow. In several months, they begin migrating back to the Gulf to mature, mate, and spawn, completing their life cycle.

Shrimp are important in estuarine and offshore food webs. Pink shrimp are omnivorous scavengers, feeding on anything from detritus and algae to small invertebrates and fish tissue, depending on their size. Shrimp is a major source of food for many forms of marine life, including many commercially important crabs and finfish.

Pink shrimp are crustaceans with 10 walking legs and five pairs of swimming legs located on the front of their abdomen. They have grooves down both sides of their head, which distinguish them from white shrimp, and a dark spot on each side of their bodies, which distinguishes them from brown shrimp. Their bodies are generally gray, bluish, or red-brown and their tail usually has a dark blue band (rather than the purplish band found on brown shrimp).

Commercial fishermen have been harvesting shrimp in the Gulf since the early 1800s. The shrimp fishery has grown and advanced over time with the introduction of new harvesting gear and technology, coupled with expanding markets for shrimp. Brown and white shrimp are the two main species of shrimp harvested in the Gulf, making up 94% of the total Gulf shrimp harvest in 2013. Harvests of pink shrimp made up about 3% of the total Gulf shrimp harvest. Commercial fishermen brought in nearly 5.6 million pounds of pink shrimp from the Gulf in 2013; 91% of this was landed in Florida, where pink shrimp are most abundant. The other Gulf states harvest much smaller amounts of pink shrimp, generally bringing them in with catch of other shrimp species.

Pink shrimp migrate between coastal estuaries and offshore waters during their life cycle and are harvested in both areas. Through this migration, they cross boundaries between state and federal waters; as a result, both state management agencies and federal authorities (NOAA Fisheries and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council) are responsible for managing shrimp fisheries. Pink shrimp’s biological characteristics make them fairly resilient to fishing pressure. In general, management focuses on maximizing the volume and value of shrimp harvests in addition to reducing the impact of the shrimp fishery on other species, such as finfish and sea turtles, and bottom habitats.

Methods Seasons Landings
Commercial Recreational

About 90% of the pink shrimp harvested in the United States comes from the Gulf, mainly landed in West Florida. In 2013, commercial fishermen brought in nearly 5.6 million pounds of Gulf pink shrimp, with almost 5.1 million pounds from Florida’s West Coast. Pink shrimp are highly valuable, bringing dockside revenues of nearly $14.7 million in 2013.

Source: NOAA Fisheries Annual Commercial Landings Statistics

Landings Summary Data :  

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Overview Current Abundance Additional Reasearch

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries use abundance data from joint federal and state groundfish surveys, along with data from state-run surveys and commercial catch data, to assess the status of the pink shrimp stock throughout the Gulf.

Shrimp harvests are monitored through state-run trip ticket programs—docks purchasing shrimp directly from commercial fishermen submit information about their catch, for example, what it is, where and how it was caught, shrimp sizes, and quantities. Commercial fishermen who sell their catch directly to consumers are also required to complete and submit trip tickets with this information.

Current Abundance

The most recent pink shrimp stock assessment (2012) showed that shrimp spawning biomass and recruitment have increased in recent years, while fishing mortality has decreased. This assessment also concluded that the Gulf pink shrimp stock is abundant (not overfished) and harvested at an appropriate rate (no overfishing).

Although scientists monitor shrimp abundance to ensure the stock is healthy, it’s not as an important consideration for fishery managers as with other seafood species. Since shrimp are essentially an “annual crop” (most shrimp seldom live longer than one year), it’s more useful for managers to review historic harvests and fishing rates, the amount of surviving parents, and environmental conditions, such as weather and water temperatures, in developing a management strategy for the fishery. As long as environmental conditions are favorable, shrimp are highly productive and can rebound from low abundance one year to high abundance the next.

Additional Research

NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center Shrimp Research

The Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation is currently working with the shrimp industry to assess new bycatch reduction devices for the shrimp trawl fishery. This work should provide additional gear configurations that more efficiently catch shrimp and more effectively reduce catch of non-target species.

Who's Responsible Management Program
Who's Responsible

Commercial fishermen harvest pink shrimp from state waters (within the jurisdiction of individual states) and from offshore federal waters of the Gulf.

Each Gulf state is responsible for managing shrimp fisheries in their state waters. The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission helps coordinate management of interjurisdictional fisheries like shrimp, gathering scientific data and organizing management strategies across the Gulf States.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries are responsible for the pink shrimp fishery in adjacent federal waters.

Management Program

As shrimp populations are fairly resilient to fishing pressure, the general goal of shrimp management programs is to use scientific information about the shrimp population and fishery to maximize the volume and value of harvests while minimizing the fishery’s impact on other species, such as finfish and sea turtles, and bottom habitats.

Specific management measures vary across the state and federal management authorities but are generally consistent and include seasonal and area closures, gear restrictions, and licensing and permitting requirements. For more on state management, click the individual state tabs; for more on federal management, see FishWatch.gov.