WSJ: Asian Tiger Shrimp Raise Big Question: Friend or Foe?

by / Newsroom Ink on September 7, 2013

Photo: DigitalTexan.net

An exotic, large species of monster shrimp is being found once again in the Gulf of Mexico and poses a potential threat to the $700 million Gulf shrimping industry.  Shrimp in Texas waters was arm-length. Photo: DigitalTexan.net

Editor’s Note:

An exotic, large species of monster shrimp is being found once again in the Gulf of Mexico and posing a potential threat to the $700 million Gulf shrimping industry. Shrimpers from Florida to Texas have reported random Asian tiger shrimp in their catches.

An Asian tiger shrimp found near Grand Isle in Louisiana waters.  Photo: Jim Gossen

An Asian tiger shrimp found at Little Lake near Cut Off in Louisiana waters. Photo: Jim Gossen

The Asian tiger shrimp sightings reported by U.S. commercial shrimpers have dropped since 2011, but scientists and shrimpers agree the decline isn’t because the tiger shrimp aren’t there.

Genetic testing shows tiger shrimp caught in U.S. waters are closely related to one another, though so far their origin remains unknown. One theory is they came in a ship’s ballast water. Another is that they escaped from Caribbean aqua farms.

Comments posted on the Wall Street Journal’s article show the Gulf seafood community has a perception issue in regards to the invasive and destructive species:

  • BRUCE RYAN Wrote:  “hey, pretty soon being called a shrimp won’t mean you are a little guy.”
  • GUSTAVO LUZARDO Wrote:  “This is a non-issue… If you want to decimate any species, allow commercial fishing, or find a way to commercialize. Once the peeps get a taste for it, the poor shrimps will be cocktailed’d out of our waters. This are really Prawns anyway”
  • CROSBY BOYD Wrote: “Look at the bright side. Jumbo fails to accurately describe their size. And jumbos sell for a premium. And tiger shrimp are quite tasty. What’s the downside?”
  • David Hedenberg Wrote: “Boil them, or fry, or grill, or Bar B Que, or do them in a scampi. Heck lets just eat em. If every person in the country ate just one a week, thats 300 million. Their can’t be that many of them, and if there are, there is always next week.”

Invasive Asian Tiger Species, Now in the U.S., Has Scientists Worried About Ecosystem

by Cameron McWhirter/WSJ

Dennis Morrison took a boat out with a friend recently to cast nets for white shrimp in the marshes around this seafood port. On one of his last throws, an odd-looking black shrimp came up in the haul. It didn’t act like the others; it jumped and flopped in the boat.

A  invader nabbed last week in the Gulf of Mexico.  Photo:  Dennis Morrison/WSJ

A invader nabbed in the Alabama waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Dennis Morrison/WSJ

Asian tiger shrimp, which can grow to the length of a man’s forearm and are voracious predators, are establishing themselves in U.S. coastal waters.

The big question perplexing scientists is whether the species will become an ecological nightmare “or just a bigger shrimp that you can eat,” said Marcus Drymon, a marine scientist at the Dauphin Island lab, who has just applied for a $150,000 federal grant for a two-year study in Mobile Bay of where these shrimp are growing and what they are eating. He wants to offer a $25 bounty to shrimpers to turn in tiger shrimp.

While most U.S. native shrimp are scavengers, Asian tiger shrimp are aggressive predators, known to eat other shrimp, crabs and clams. They also are prone to communicable diseases that can infect large numbers of shrimp, including other species.

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About the Author

About the Author: Ed Lallo is the former editor of Gulf Seafood News and CEO of Newsroom Ink, an online brand journalism agency. .

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