The commercial shrimp fishery is one of the most economically important fisheries in the southeast. While not overfished, the white shrimp resource in the South Atlantic region is periodically decimated by severe winter cold kills, especially offshore of Georgia and South Carolina. Following these events, continued fishing on the few remaining adults in the spring may reduce the more valuable fall shrimp production. The Council's Shrimp FMP allows for concurrent closures of Federal waters in conjunction with State closures through emergency action, following severe winter cold weather that results in an 80% or more reduction in the population of overwintering shrimp. This cooperative plan allows maximum protection of the remaining adult population.
Other challenges in the fishery addressed by the Council include the bycatch of nontargeted fish and invertebrates and the impact of the rock shrimp fishery (trawling) on essential bottom habitat. To resolve the bycatch problems, the Council required the use of certified bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) in all penaeid (pink, white and brown) shrimp trawls in the South Atlantic EEZ and established a framework for BRD certification. The Council also limited the impact of the rock shrimp fishery on bottom habitat by prohibiting trawling in specified areas to protect Oculina coral off the coast of Florida. With the ability to close federal waters to protect spawning white shrimp, the requirement for BRDs to minimize bycatch, and the prohibition on rock shrimp trawling in Oculina coral areas, the Council has developed a successful management program for the shrimp fishery where it occurs in the EEZ.
Fishery Management Plan / Amendments
Shrimp Fishery Management Plan for the South Atlantic Region (1993)
Provided South Atlantic states with the ability to request concurrent closure of the white shrimp fishery in the EEZ adjacent to their closed state waters following severe winter cold weather; Established a buffer zone extending seaward from shore 25 nautical miles, inside which no trawling is allowed with a net having less than 4 inches stretch mesh during an EEZ closure. The plan also provides for transit through the EEZ during closure of the white shrimp fishery.
Effective: November 26, 1993
Amendment 1 (1995)
Added rock shrimp to the management unit; Limited the impact of the rock shrimp fishery on essential bottom habitat by prohibiting trawling for rock shrimp east of 80° W longitude between 27°30' N. latitude and 28°30' N. latitude in depths less than 100 fathoms; and Implemented measures to ensure adequate reporting and monitoring of the fishery.
Effective: November 1, 1996
Amendment 2 (Bycatch Reduction - 1996)
Added pink shrimp to the management unit; Defined overfishing for brown and pink shrimp; Defined optimum yield for brown and pink shrimp; Required the use of certified bycatch reduction devices in all penaeid shrimp trawls in the South Atlantic EEZ; and Established a framework for BRD certification which specifies BRD certification criteria and testing protocol.
Effective: April 21, 1997
Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Protocol Manual (1997)
The specifications in this document are used by the states and researchers testing the effectiveness of any new or modified BRD in reducing bycatch of target species as specified by the council.
Amendment 4 (1998)
Amended the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as required to make definitions of MSY, OY, overfishing and overfished consistent with "National Standard Guidelines"; identified and defined fishing communities and addressed bycatch management measures.
Effective: December 2, 1999
Amendment 5 (2003)
Addressed requirements for the rock shrimp fishery including the establishment of a limited access program requiring limited access endorsements for owners of vessels who qualified; required operator permits; established a minimum mesh size for the cod end of a rock shrimp trawl in the EEZ off Florida and Georgia of 1 7/8 inches to allow the escapement of juvenile shrimp; and required the use of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) for vessels operating in the South Atlantic to protect increase enforcement capability and protect habitat, especially the Oculina Bank HAPC off of the East Coast of Florida that is closed to trawling.
Established a federal permit for the penaeid (pink, white, and brown) shrimp, required BRD's in the rock shrimp fishery, amended the BRD Testing Protocol and criteria for certification, established a method to monitor and assess bycatch in the rock shrimp and penaeid shrimp fishery, and addressed stock status determination criteria.
Shrimp Amendment 7 addresses the current landing requirement for rock shrimp limited access endorsements, reinstates endorsements lost due either to not meeting the landing requirement in one of four consecutive calendar years or not renewing the endorsement on time, renames the permit/endorsement system to minimize confusion; requires verification of a Vessel Monitoring System to renew, reinstate or transfer a limited access endorsement; and requires provision of economic data by federal shrimp permit holders. Following public hearings in August 2008, the Council approved Shrimp Amendment 7 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during its September 2008 meeting in Charleston, SC.
Amendment 9 - Shrimp Amendment 9 addresses revising the criteria and procedures by which South Atlantic states may request a concurrent closure of the penaeid shrimp (brown, pink, and white shrimp) commercial sector in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in order to protect overwintering white shrimp. Amendment 9 would also update the current overfished and overfishing status determination criteria for pink shrimp.
Effective: July 15, 2013
Shrimp Amendment 11
Shrimp Amendment 11 includes one action to address cold-weather transit provisions for shrimp trawlers. Under the modifications in the amendment, a vessel may transit South Atlantic cold weather closed areas while possessing brown shrimp, pink shrimp, or white shrimp provided the vessel is in transit and fishing gear is appropriately stowed. Transit means non-stop progression through the area with fishing gear appropriately stowed. Gear appropriately stowed means trawl doors in the rack (cradle), nets in the rigging and tied down, and try net on the deck.
Effective: November 23, 2020