July Shrimp Landings Lowest Since 2010; Major Historical Revisions Confirm Substantial Underreporting of Shrimp Landings in Louisiana and Florida

Last week, 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 July.

For the month, NOAA reports that 6.4 million pounds of shrimp was landed in the Gulf of Mexico, the lowest total for any July since 2010 (5.5 million pounds). In NOAA’s reporting, the decline in shrimp landed volume in July compared to prior years appears to be the product of lower than anticipated landings in Texas, where the 2.8 million pounds of shrimp harvested two months ago was the lowest volume recorded in the month of July for the state since 2017.

Over the first seven months of 2021, NOAA reports that the total volume of shrimp landed in the Gulf of Mexico, 34.7 million pounds, is slightly higher than what it had reported for the same time period last year, 34.2 million pounds, while slightly lower than what the agency reported for the first seven months of 2019, 35.6 million pounds.

These numbers are not, however, reflected in NOAA’s July 2021 Shrimp Statistics report published by the agency and available on its website. Instead, the Shrimp Statistics report shows shrimp landings volumes for 2021 that are substantially lower than those reported for the prior four years (2017-2020). These newly reported historical figures reflect revisions to past preliminary reporting of shrimp landings data that now provide the actual shrimp landings data reported by the states.

The impact of the ultimate, final data on NOAA’s initially reported estimates reported varies by state. In the historical analysis conducted by the Southern Shrimp Alliance, the organization has now included charts comparing NOAA’s original reporting of estimates with the newly revised figures reported for 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. While this analysis indicates that NOAA’s estimates have consistently undercounted the total volume of shrimp landed by the domestic shrimp industry, the discrepancy varies by state. For Texas, NOAA’s estimates of July landings over the last three years were roughly 11 percent below the actual volume finally reported and NOAA’s estimates for landings in the state over the first seven months of the year were less than 7 percent below the actual volume ultimately reported in 2018, 2019, and 2020. In contrast, for Louisiana, the actual landings of shrimp in July over the previous four years (2017-2020) were roughly 90 percent higher than NOAA’s originally reported estimates. For the first seven months of the year, the revised and corrected figures for the state of Louisiana are roughly 60 percent higher than NOAA’s originally reported estimates.

Like Texas, NOAA’s reporting of estimates for shrimp landings in Alabama have been relatively close to the final figures, with the actual landings over the first seven months of the prior four years just 11 percent higher than the agency’s initial estimates. But for the West Coast of Florida, the circumstances are more like that seen in Louisiana, with actual landings approximately 53 percent higher than NOAA’s original estimates.

Across the Gulf, the actual landings of shrimp between January to July in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, were over a third higher than the initial estimates published by NOAA. The final bar in the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s comparison charts applies the average increase in the revised landings figures compared to the original estimates to provide an estimate of how much larger the actual harvest of shrimp in the region was likely to have been both in July 2021 and over the first seven months of this year. Because the extent of the discrepancy between NOAA’s initial estimates and the final tabulated numbers has varied substantially over the previous four years, this simple model for estimating actual landings is unlikely to be accurate but should provide some sense as to the degree of underreporting likely reflected in NOAA’s current estimates.

Ex-vessel prices for shrimp landed in July 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) or the northern Gulf (Alabama, Louisiana, & Mississippi). For the western Gulf, the ex-vessel prices reported for every count size were substantially above the ex-vessel prices reported in July 2020 and, for smaller-sized shrimp, were at historically high levels.

“The Southern Shrimp Alliance is grateful for NOAA’s continuing efforts to improve the accuracy and reliability of the shrimp landings data reported by the agency,” said John Williams, the Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “Getting the right information out to the public is often a thankless and time-consuming task, but the data being reported is of vital importance to our industry and to the millions of Americans who enjoy U.S. wild-caught shrimp.”

Please click the following link to view SSA’s compilation and summary of July 2002-2021 Shrimp Landings and Ex-Vessel Prices for July 2001-2021 in the Gulf of Mexico:

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