Shrimp Fisheries Improving in Gulf of Mexico, Thanks In Part to Seafood Suppliers

Shrimp fishery bycatch in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, before bycatch reduction devices were required. Photo by Megan Westmeyer.

By Megan Westmeyer

Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) are based on the premise that the seafood industry itself is the strongest force for driving improvements in fisheries, and a group of shrimp suppliers from the Gulf of Mexico has shown us how it’s done. Cox’s Wholesale Seafood, Katie’s Seafood Market, National Fish and Seafood, and Philly Seafood worked with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) on shrimp FIPs in Texas and Florida to evaluate the status of bycatch species in the Gulf of Mexico.

Shrimp fishery bycatch in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, before bycatch reduction devices were required. Photo by Megan Westmeyer.

In the 1970s, shrimp bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico was estimated at over 10 pounds of bycatch (unwanted species) for every one pound of shrimp caught. But those numbers have been significantly reduced. In fact, bycatch has decreased by 75% to about two-and-a-half pounds of bycatch for every one pound of shrimp. This decrease is primarily due to mandated net modifications such as turtle excluder devices and fish bycatch reduction devices. While this is a substantial decrease in bycatch, one meaningful question remained: what is the status of those bycatch species? Even with the impressive reduction, are any of —> Read More Here

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