May 9, 2008

DMF wants to know about catches of Asian black tiger shrimp


Some North Carolina shrimpers have pulled in an unusual type of shrimp in addition to the common white, pink, or brown species in their trawl nets.

In 2006 and 2007, fishermen reported catching a few Asian black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), a species not native to South Atlantic waters.

“We don’t think the black tiger shrimp is established here, but we really don’t have much information.  That’s why we’re asking fishermen to call us if they catch any of these shrimp,” said Trish Murphey at the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

Black tiger shrimp, one of the world’s largest shrimp species, can grow to more than one foot in length, although the ones captured in North Carolina have been around 9 inches long.

Native to the West Pacific, the black tiger is also widely farmed, particularly in Southeast Asia.

The species is named for the distinct dark stripes that encircle its shell.  

The first reported sighting of black tiger shrimp in the state was in October, 2006, in Pamlico Sound, near Gull Rock in Hyde County.  In 2007, fishermen reported catching tiger shrimp in the same vicinity, as well as offshore of Bogue Banks in Carteret County.

Murphey said the most likely explanation is that the non-native shrimp escaped from aquaculture facilities into the coastal waters of the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

The species is not grown on shrimp farms in North Carolina, but is grown on farms in South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

In 1988, tiger shrimp escaped from an aquaculture facility farm in Bluffton, S.C., and nearly 1,000 were later recaptured as far south as Cape Canaveral, Fla., according to information from the Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Division of the United States Geological Survey.  

Tiger shrimp also have been reported in the coastal waters of Alabama and Louisiana.

Scientists said the impact of tiger shrimp on native shrimp species is unknown, but that the transfer of disease is always a concern when exotic species move outside of their natural habitats.  Disease in wild shrimp can be difficult to detect because fish or crabs almost immediately eat weakened or dead shrimp.  

Trish Murphey asked fishermen who capture black tiger shrimp to freeze the shrimp, record the date and location of capture, and contact her at 800-682-2632 or [email protected].

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