Last Wednesday, 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 March 2023.
Since July of 2021, NOAA has substantially revised its reporting of monthly landings to replace preliminarily reported figures with final, corrected amounts. Because these revisions continue to indicate significant differences between figures reported on a preliminary basis and revised, final amounts, the Southern Shrimp Alliance is now revising the historical data it maintains and reports to reflect the final, corrected numbers where these amounts have been made available by the federal agency. Accordingly, the historical amounts reported as shrimp landed in the Gulf of Mexico during the month of March in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 have been revised in accordance with NOAA’s current reporting, as have the total landings data reported for the first quarter of 2023. All of the numbers reported for years before 2019 continue to be those initially reported by NOAA and have not been changed.
The preliminary data released by NOAA indicates that roughly 2.6 million pounds of shrimp were landed in the Gulf and South Atlantic in March 2023, down slightly from 2.7 million pounds in March of 2022. Landings in the Gulf in March were the lowest reported by NOAA for the month since 2018 and represented the third straight year of declining volume in March. Nevertheless, the volume of landings in the Gulf for March 2023 was 3.8 percent above the prior twenty-two year historical average of 2.5 million pounds.
Over the first quarter of this year, a total of 9.7 million pounds of shrimp had been landed in the Gulf, with another 834,000 pounds landed on the east coast of Florida. Outside of Florida, no other landings data for the South Atlantic has been reported this year. Gulf shrimp landings were significantly down from the 13.6 million pounds of shrimp landed over the first quarter of 2022, but were on par with the prior twenty-two year historical average of 9.7 million pounds.
Landings this year in Louisiana – down from 5.8 million pounds last year to 3.4 million pounds this year – and in Texas – down from 3.6 million pounds last year to 2.6 million pounds this year – have fallen significantly, while landings in Alabama, at 2.7 million pounds, were the highest ever reported for the state over the first three months of a year and were more than double the prior twenty-two year historic average of 1.3 million pounds for the state.
While the overall volume of shrimp landed in the first quarter of this year has been, collectively, in line with historic averages, prices paid to fishermen for that shrimp remained 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).
NOAA did not report ex-vessel prices for any size shrimp in the South Atlantic for March of 2023. A review of the ex-vessel pricing data from NOAA for the Gulf of Mexico indicates that ex-vessel prices for all count sizes this year continued to be at their lowest levels since at least 2019. For some count sizes, prices were massively below prior years, as prices for 16/20 count size shrimp dropped to just $4.54 per pound in March compared to $8.53 per pound in March 2022. Similarly, prices for 41/50 count size shrimp fell from $3.65 per pound in the Gulf of Mexico in March 2022 to just $1.90 in March 2023.
Please click the following link to view the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s compilation and summary of March 2001-2023 shrimp landings in the Gulf of Mexico, March 2018/19-2023 shrimp landings in the South Atlantic, and ex-vessel prices in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic for March 2019-2023: https://shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/March-2023-Landings.pdf