Last Thursday, the Fishery Monitoring Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center released preliminary shrimp landings data from the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic for February 2023.
Since July of 2021, NOAA has been making substantial revisions to its reporting of landings to now reflect final totals for past years rather than the preliminary numbers initially reported. Because NOAA’s reporting for February 2023 remains preliminary in nature, the Southern Shrimp Alliance continues to use the agency’s preliminary figures that were originally reported. This means that in the summary charts prepared by the Southern Shrimp Alliance, the historical figures for the month of February in 2019, 2020, and 2021 do not correspond to the numbers released by NOAA last week. No preliminary figures were released by the agency for February 2022, so final, rather than preliminary, totals for this month are used in the summary charts. Where final figures are used in the charts, that year is marked with an asterisk.
The preliminary data indicates that over 3.1 million pounds of shrimp were landed in the Gulf and South Atlantic in February 2023, down from 5.0 million pounds in February of 2022.
In the Gulf of Mexico, 2.9 million pounds of shrimp were landed in February, 1.4 percent above the prior 22-year historic average. These significant landings were reported despite a sharp downturn in the volume of shrimp harvested in Texas. At roughly 540,000 pounds, landings in the state were 52.7 percent below the prior 22-year historic average and were the second lowest recorded over the past 23 years. The drop in landings in Texas was offset by 972,000 pounds of shrimp landed in Alabama – an amount that was over double the prior 22-year historic average – and 1.0 million pounds of shrimp landed in Louisiana – an amount that was 34.2 percent above the prior 22-year historic average.
In the South Atlantic, 0.2 million pounds of shrimp were landed in February, 36.3 percent below the prior 4-year historic average, although landings were only reported for the east coast of Florida and for nowhere else along the Atlantic coast.
For the first two months of 2023, 2.8 million pounds of shrimp were landed in Louisiana, an amount that is 13.0 percent above the prior 22-year historic average. An additional 1.9 million pounds of shrimp were landed in Alabama, an all-time high for the state.
While the overall volume of shrimp landed in the early part of this year has been in line with historic averages, prices paid to fishermen for that shrimp have been at historic lows.
NOAA has revised its reporting of ex-vessel prices, such that the agency no longer reports ex-vessel prices for three different areas of the Gulf of Mexico (Western, Northern, and Eastern). Instead, NOAA now reports a single ex-vessel price for the entirety of Gulf of Mexico and, separately, a single ex-vessel price for the South Atlantic. As the result of the simplification of NOAA’s reporting, the Southern Shrimp Alliance now tracks and summarizes prices for all count sizes used by the agency (U15, 15/20, 21/25, 26/30, 31/35, 36/40, and 41/50).
A review of the ex-vessel pricing data from NOAA indicates that ex-vessel prices in the Gulf of Mexico for all count sizes were reported to be at their lowest levels since at least 2019. For some count sizes, prices were massively below prior years, as prices for 15/20 count size shrimp dropped to just $4.75 per pound in February compared to $8.63 per pound in February 2022. Similarly, prices for 36/40 count size shrimp fell from $4.45 per pound in the Gulf of Mexico in February 2022 to just $2.46 in February 2023.
Please click the following link to view the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s compilation and summary of February 2001-2023 shrimp landings in the Gulf of Mexico, February 2019-2023 shrimp landings in the South Atlantic, and ex-vessel prices in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic for February 2019-2023: https://shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/February-2023-Landings.pdf