Pink shrimp

About The Species

U.S. wild-caught pink shrimp is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population Level

Above target population levels.

Fishing Status

At recommended levels.

Habitat Impact

Gear restrictions, such as a weak-link in the tickler chain, are in place to protect bottom habitat from trawl gear.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

Status

  • According to the 2015 stock assessment, the pink shrimp stock in the South Atlantic is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
  • According to the 2015 stock assessment, the pink shrimp stock in the Gulf of Mexico is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
Appearance
  • Pink shrimp are crustaceans with 10 slender, relatively long walking legs and five pairs of swimming legs, located on the front surface of the abdomen.
  • They typically have a dark-colored spot on each side between their third and fourth abdominal segments. Their tail usually has a dark blue band (rather than the purplish band found on brown shrimp).
  • Their carapace is grooved.
  • Part of their shell is a well-developed, toothed rostrum that extends to or beyond the outer edge of the eyes.
Behavior and Diet
  • Pink shrimp grow fairly fast, depending on factors such as water temperature and salinity, and can reach over 8 inches in length. 
  • They have a short life span, usually less than 2 years, and are often referred to as an “annual crop.”
  • Pink shrimp are able to reproduce when they reach about 3.3 inches long.
  • Off North Carolina, they spawn in May through July. In Florida they spawn multiple times, peaking from April through July when the water is warmest.
  • Males mate with females and anchor their sperm to the females. Females release about 500,000 to 1 million eggs near the ocean floor, and the eggs are fertilized as they are released.
  • Newly hatched shrimp travel to their estuarine nursery habitats in late spring and early summer, propelled by shoreward currents.
  • Shrimp that survive the winter grow rapidly in late winter and early spring before returning to the ocean.
  • Pink shrimp larvae feed on plankton (tiny floating plants and animals). Juvenile and adult shrimp are omnivorous, feeding on copepods, small mollusks, diatoms, algae, plant detritus, bacterial films, slime molds, and yeast.
  • Sheepshead minnows, water boatmen, and insect larvae eat postlarval shrimp, and grass shrimp, killifishes, and blue crabs prey on young shrimp.
  • A wide variety of finfish feed heavily on juvenile and adult shrimp.
Location Description

Pink shrimp are found from southern Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Keys and around the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan south of Cabo Catoche, Mexico. They’re most abundant off southwestern Florida and the southeastern Gulf of Campeche. 

Management
  • NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils manage the pink shrimp fishery, and state resource management agencies are responsible for inshore state waters. 
  • In the South Atlantic, managed under the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan:
    • Permits are needed to harvest shrimp in federal waters.
    • Fishing trip reports must be submitted for each fishing trip.
    • Observers must be carried aboard vessels if selected, to collect data on catch, bycatch, fishing effort, and fishing gear.
    • Managers set catch levels based on historic harvest amounts and fishing rates, rather than abundance because pink shrimp are short-lived and heavily influenced by environmental factors.
  • In the Gulf of Mexico, managed under the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Fishery Management Plan:
    • Permits are needed to harvest shrimp in federal waters. Currently no new permits are being issued to prevent an increase in the number of boats participating in the fishery.
    • Electronic logbooks must be installed and fishermen must submit trip reports for each fishing trip.
    • Observers must be carried aboard vessels if selected, to collect data on catch, bycatch, fishing effort, and fishing gear.
    • Each year all shrimping in federal waters off Texas is closed from approximately mid-May to mid-July to protect brown shrimp populations.