Global study of shrimp fisheries

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 475

Global study of shrimp fisheries

R. Gillett
FAO Consultant

Rome, 2008

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ISBN 978-92-5-106053-7

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© FAO 2008

Gillett, R.
Global study of shrimp fisheries.
FAO Document technique sur les pÍches. No. 475. Rome, FAO. 2008. 331p.


This report summarizes the results of a global study on the development and present status of shrimp fisheries, with a focus on direct and indirect social, economic and environmental impacts. The study reviews the current situation, problems and issues, as well as the solutions found and the trade-offs made. Important topics related to shrimp fisheries are examined in ten countries representative of geographic regions, together with their various significant shrimp fishing conditions. The ten countries selected are: Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America. The results of the country reviews are combined with specialized studies on important topics related to shrimp fisheries to produce the major findings of the overall study.

The recent world shrimp catch is about 3.4 million tonnes per year, with Asia as the most noteworthy area for shrimp fishing. World production of shrimp, both captured and farmed, is about 6 million tonnes, of which about 60 percent enters the world market. Shrimp is now the most important internationally traded fishery commodity in terms of value. In many tropical developing countries, it is the most valuable fishery export; the employment aspect is also significant. The economic importance of shrimp needs to be reconciled with considerable concern about the environmental impacts of shrimp fisheries.

Observations are made about many aspects of shrimp fisheries. These include: the development of shrimp fishing; structure of the shrimp fisheries; target species; catch/ effort; economic contributions; trade; bycatch; fuel; biological aspects; impacts on the physical environment; impacts of large-scale shrimp fishing on small-scale fisheries; management; enforcement; research; data reporting; and the impacts of shrimp farming on shrimp fishing.

A major conclusion of the study is that there are mechanisms, instruments and models to enable effective mitigation of many of the difficulties associated with shrimp fishing, taking a precautionary and ecosystem approach to fisheries. The inference is that, with an appropriate implementation capacity, shrimp fishing, including shrimp trawling, is indeed manageable. In many countries, however, weak agencies dealing with fisheries, lack of political will and inadequate legal foundations cause failures in the management of shrimp fisheries. The report makes specific recommendations in a few key areas: the management of small-scale shrimp fisheries, capacity reduction; and access to the fishery.


Preparation of this document (Download 907 kb)
Acronyms and abbreviations
Executive summary


Development of the study
Other considerations
Part 1 – MAJOR ISSUES IN SHRIMP FISHERIES (Download 861 kb - 619 kb)

1.  History and development of shrimp fishing

2.  Structure of shrimp fisheries

     Main features at the national and global levels
     Main fishing gear
     Alternatives to trawl gear

3.  Shrimp species, catches and fishing effort

     Catches by shrimp species
     Catches by country
     Shrimp fishing effort and capacity

4.  Economic contribution of shrimp fishing

5.  Trade aspects

     Major features of the shrimp trade
     Major shrimp markets
     Important issues in the shrimp trade

6.  Bycatch issues

     Quantifying bycatch
     Major bycatch issues
     The FAO Discards Study
     Bycatch species
     International initiatives to reduce bycatch
     Biological research on bycatch
     Bycatch reduction devices
     Effectiveness of bycatch reduction efforts
     Bycatch in non-trawl shrimp fisheries
     Bycatch management

7.  Fuel use in shrimp fisheries

     Country experience
     Mitigation of fuel cost increases
     Fuel subsidies

8.  Profitability of shrimp fishing and resource rent

     Country experience
     Improving profitability
     Resource rent

9.  Biological aspects of shrimp

     Basic biology and life histories
     Important issues relating to shrimp resources and biology
     Stock assessment

10.  Impacts of shrimp fishing on the bottom habitat

     Describing the impact
     Developed vs developing countries
     Results of research on physical impacts
     Impact on biodiversity

11.  Interactions between large- and small-scale fisheries

     Importance of the interaction
     Types of interactions
     Mitigation of negative interactions

12.  Management of shrimp fisheries

     Main shrimp fishery management issues in the ten study countries
     The shrimp fisheries management framework
     Management interventions
     Open and limited access
     Management of small-scale shrimp fisheries
     Ecosystem approach to fisheries
     Legislation for shrimp fisheries management
     Management costs
     Difficulty in managing shrimp fisheries
     Cold-water shrimp fishery management

13.  Enforcement

     Enforcement issues in shrimp fisheries
     Enforcement issues in small-scale shrimp fisheries
     Electronic vessel monitoring
     Enforcement costs

14.  Shrimp fishery research issues

     Past and current research
     Important national issues in shrimp research
     GEF/UNEP/FAO project research
     Research on small-scale shrimp fisheries
     Research costs

15.  Data reporting

16.  Impacts of shrimp farming on shrimp fishing activities

     General information on shrimp farming
     General impacts
     Economic impacts in the marketplace
     Destruction of mangrove forests
     Postlarvae and broodstock
     Escapes of cultured shrimp
     Other impacts of shrimp farming on shrimp fishing
     Other considerations

17.  Conclusions

     Is shrimp fishing manageable?
     Management of small-scale shrimp fisheries in developing countries
     Benefits and costs
     Some suggestions

Part 2 – SHRIMP FISHERIES IN SELECTED COUNTRIES (Download 722 kb - 780 kb)

  Shrimp fishing in Australia

  Shrimp fishing in Cambodia

  Shrimp fishing in Indonesia

  Shrimp fishing in Kuwait

  Shrimp fishing in Madagascar

  Shrimp fishing in Mexico

  Shrimp fishing in Nigeria

  Shrimp fishing in Norway

  Shrimp fishing in Trinidad and Tobago

  Shrimp fishing in the United States of America

REFERENCES (Download 837 kb)