10/16/09 — Shrimping industry big business in Tar Heel state

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Shrimping industry big business in Tar Heel state

By Courtesy NCDMF
Published in Sports on October 16, 2009 1:46 PM

Courtesy NCDMF

Shrimping is a business, and it is a staple of fisheries management in North Carolina.

With that simple motto in mind, several coastal communities are stepping up efforts to make sure that the century-old practice will always have a place in Tar Heel state waters.

Fishermen have harvested these crustaceans since the 1920s and the demand for them still continues. Shrimp are an economic necessity for fishermen, as well as a staple for many dinner tables.

"There are entire communities that evolve around shrimping," said Scott Crosson, socioeconomic program manager for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. "Whole families participate in catching, unloading and heading shrimp."

Shrimp is the second-largest commercial fishery in North Carolina, bested only by blue crabs in pounds landed and dockside value.

There are primarily three species of shrimp found in North Carolina waters: brown, pink and white shrimp.

Brown shrimp are the most abundant species and are caught mainly in the summer and have a maximum life span of 18 months. They can grow up to 9 inches long and account for 67 percent of North Carolina's shrimp landings.

White shrimp or green tails are the second-most abundant and only found in the fall for harvesting. They can live up to 24 months and grow up to eight inches. White shrimp bring in 28 percent of North Carolina's shrimp landings.

Pink shrimp, or spotted shrimp, are the least abundant and are harvested in the spring. They have a maximum life span of 24 months and can grow as large as 11 inches. They account for 5 percent of North Carolina's shrimp landings.

"Unfortunately, within the last 30 years or so, shrimp harvesting has been hit the hardest out of all the commercial industries," Crosson said.

When adjusted for inflation, the price of shrimp has dropped by more than 50 percent since the late 1970s, Crosson said. Imported shrimp are a big reason why. Shrimp imports have tripled in the past 10 years.

Wild American Shrimp is a national campaign that has been developed to educate and promote the harvesting and selling of non-imported or farm-raised shrimp.