This morning, the Fishery Monitoring Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center released shrimp landings data from the Gulf of Mexico for May.
Last month, 6.6 million pounds of shrimp were landed in the Gulf of Mexico, down slightly from 6.7 million pounds in May of 2020. Since 2002, the only previous May where a smaller volume of shrimp was landed was in 2014 (5.7 million pounds). Overall, the landings of shrimp last month were half that of the prior nineteen-year historical average landings for the month of May, 13.3 million pounds.
The principal driver in the low level of May landings has been a sharp decline in reported landings of shrimp in Louisiana. For the last three years, the shrimp harvest reported for Louisiana in May by NOAA has been aberrational and substantially below virtually all prior years. In May 2019, NOAA reported that 3.3 million pounds of shrimp had been landed in Louisiana, compared to 9.6 million pounds in May of 2018. NOAA would report that 3.5 million pounds of shrimp were landed in Louisiana in May of 2020 and again reported that 3.5 million pounds were landed in the state last month, an amount 63 percent below the prior nineteen-year historical average of 9.4 million pounds. Because of the significant revisions that have been made to Louisiana shrimp landings by NOAA in its annual reporting of shrimp landings in the Fisheries of the United States report, it is possible that these figures reflect data collection issues in Louisiana rather than a decline in shrimp landings volumes.
Through the first five months of 2021, a total of 19.1 million pounds of shrimp was landed across the Gulf of Mexico, up from 17.0 million pounds over the same time period last year as well as in 2019. Overall, landings of shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico this year have been 23 percent below the prior nineteen-year historical average of 24.9 million pounds.
Ex-vessel prices for shrimp landed in May in the western Gulf for all count sizes were reported by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, while ex-vessel prices were not reported by NOAA for the eastern Gulf (Florida west coast) nor for the northern Gulf (Alabama, Louisiana, & Mississippi). With the exception of one count size (26/30) shrimp, the ex-vessel prices reported in the western Gulf were substantially above the ex-vessel prices reported in May 2020 for the same count sizes.
As in past months, NOAA’s monthly reporting of shrimp landings in the Gulf of Mexico continues to include the following disclaimer:
“BE ADVISED THAT THE SUMMARIES IN THIS REPORT ARE COLLECTED OR ESTIMATED BY THE FEDERAL PORT AGENTS AND MAY NOT REFLECT THE LANDINGS FROM THE STATES”
The landing numbers reported – and the ex-vessel prices that have not been reported – throughout the last couple of years by NOAA appear to indicate that port agents may have been unable to collect information in the same manner as they have done historically.