The commercial fishery for royal red shrimp has expanded in recent years with the development of local markets. This deep-water species is most abundant on the continental shelf from about 140 to 275 fathoms east of the Mississippi River. Thus far, landings have not reached the MSY, OY, and TAC estimate of 392,000 pounds of tails in any year and have varied from approximately 200,000 to 300,000 pounds from a high of approximately 336,000 pounds in 1994.
The three principal species (penaeids) are short-lived and provide annual crops; however, royal red shrimp live longer, and several year classes may occur on the grounds at one time. The condition of each shrimp stock is monitored annually, and none has been classified as being overfished for over 40 years.
Brown, white, and pink shrimp are subjected to fishing from inland waters and estuaries, through the state-regulated territorial seas, and into federal waters of the EEZ. Royal red shrimp occur only in the EEZ. Management measures implemented under the M-SFCMA apply only to federal waters in the EEZ. Cooperative management occurs when state and federal regulations are consistent. Examples are the seasonal closure off Texas, the Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary, and the shrimp/stone crab seasonally closed zones off Florida.
The NMFS has classified commercial shrimp vessels comprising the near shore and offshore fleet into size categories from under 25 feet to over 85 feet. More than half fall into a size range from 56 to 75 feet.
Federal permits for shrimp vessels are currently required, and state license requirements vary. Many vessels maintain licenses in several states because of their migratory fishing strategy. The number of vessels in the fishery at any one time varies due to economic factors such as the price and availability of shrimp and cost of fuel. In addition to the federal shrimp vessel permits, the NMFS maintains two types of vessel files, both of which are largely dependent on port agent records. One is for vessels that are recorded as landing shrimp, the SLF; the other is the VOUF that lists vessels observed at ports. The number of commercial vessels participating in the Gulf shrimp fishery is not known but approximately 2,951 vessels obtained a permit sometime within the period from implementation of Amendment 11 (December 2002) and May 5, 2005, and previous estimates from the SLF and VOUF indicated approximately 4,000 vessels. The NMFS estimates fishing effort independently from the number of vessels fishing. The NMFS uses the number of hours actually spent fishing from interview data with vessel captains to develop reports as 24-hour days fished. These estimates have been controversial and not well understood because the effort reported does not necessarily reflect the number of active vessels in the fleet.
A recreational shrimp trawl fishery occurs seasonally and almost entirely in the inside waters of the states. There are about 8,000 small boats participating using trawls up to 16 feet in width. About half the boats are licensed in Louisiana.
Bait landings of juvenile brown, pink, and white shrimp, occur in all states and are not routinely included in the NMFS statistics. Estimates from the original FMP suggest landings of about 5 MP (whole weight) in 1980.
Various types of gear are used to capture shrimp including but not limited to cast nets, haul seines, stationary butterfly nets, wing nets, skimmer nets, traps, and beam trawls. The otter trawl