An Evaluation of the Shrimp Industry in North Carolina: Could policy changes such as an altered harvest schedule increase the profitability of the shrimp fishery?
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This study seeks to evaluate the ability of the North Carolina (NC) shrimp industry to cope with the impacts of imported shrimp on prices. First, this study provides a review of the literature and relevant background information. This essay then analyzes shrimp growth models and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This analysis evaluates the management decisions regarding the timing of the shrimp harvest by comparing the rate of change of prices to the rate of change of shrimp growth for four growth models. The first three models originated from the literature with the first model simulating the growth of male shrimp, the second model simulating the growth of female shrimp, and the third model simulating the growth of both sexes combined. While each of these models simulates the growth of individual shrimp, so the fourth model simulates shrimp population levels in addition to simulating shrimp growth resulting in biomass. Overall, the analysis yielded mixed results and proved highly dependent on the assumptions of the models. The results associated with the first and second models suggested the initial shrimp harvest occur in July rather than May, the analysis associated with the third model suggested managers delay the initial harvest until December or as late as possible to allow shrimpers to harvest all remaining shrimp, and the analysis associated with the fourth model suggested no change in the timing of the shrimp harvest. The mixed nature of these results suggests the need for more information regarding shrimp life history and growth. Following this conclusion, this study provides six general recommendations for the revision of the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in 2011: 1) Explore the optimal harvest timing, 2) Increase marketing efforts, 3) Address issues of development such as water quality and habitat destruction, 4) Allow fishers to keep and/or sell bycatch within reasonable limits, 5) Increase environmentally responsible aquaculture, and 6) Increase funding for research. By addressing these issues surrounding the shrimp fishery in NC, managers can help to ensure the continued sustainability and profitability of one of North Carolina’s most valuable fisheries.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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