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Why Our Fresh Catch Messages Are Few In Mid-Summer

Why Our Fresh Catch Messages are Few in Mid-Summer

Though you can find all types of seafood here on Louisiana Direct, our main sellers are shrimpers.  The availability of local, wild-caught shrimp is always low at this time of year, as the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF) traditionally closes the inshore shrimp season until mid-August.  To understand how and why shrimp seasons are set, you must first understand the biology and lifecycle of both brown and white shrimp.

illustration of shrimp lifecycleShrimp begin life as eggs in offshore waters. As postlarvae, shrimp will move into the shallower estuaries with incoming tides, as they cannot yet swim stronglyon their own. There, in the wetlands created where rivers and bayous meet the Gulf, these young shrimp find lots of vegetation like marsh grass to hide in, and an abundance of food is available.

Both brown and white shrimp share the estuaries to grow, but they occupy them at different times.  This sets the stage for the separate spring and fall shrimp seasons.

Brown Shrimp

From February through April, young brown shrimp move inshore—preferring the saltier water west of the Mississippi River.  Commercial inshore shrimping is closed at this time to allow these shrimp to grow, and they do so rapidly . . . moving back offshore in late spring/early summer. LDWF biologists monitor brown shrimp closely at this time, and when brown shrimp reach, or are predicted to reach, the size of 100 count per pound, the Department opens the commercial spring season.

White Shrimp

Postlarval white shrimp migrate through passes to inshore estuaries mainly from May through November, with peaks in June and September.  So while brown shrimp are moving out in early summer, the young white shrimp are moving in.  When LDWF begins to see large numbers of juvenile white shrimp in their test nets, they close the season in mid-June to allow them to grow to marketable size.  In late August and September, white shrimp begin to move back out to deeper water in response to cooling temperatures, growing larger.  State biologists open the commercial shrimp season back up when the average size of white shrimp reach, or are predicted to reach, 100 count per pound.

This split season ensures that enough mature shrimp survive to reproduce and sustain the fishery.

Coastal map of Louisiana Shrimp Management Zones.Shrimping areas in Louisiana are divided into inside waters, or those within bays and estuaries, and outside waters, which in most areas extend three miles from the shoreline into the Gulf of Mexico and are referred to as Louisiana’s “territorial sea.” The boundary between the state’s inside and outside waters is called the “shrimp line.”  Additionally, shrimp are managed in 3 distinct coastal zones.

 

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