December 2, 2011
The Department of Marine Resources of Mississippi asks the public to help fishermen in the continuing, monitoring process of Asian tiger shrimp.
There were reports of small numbers of tiger shrimp caught in northern Gulf waters, including the Mississippi Sound.
The tiger shrimp may have reached the northern Gulf of Mexico after having escaped aquaculture facilities in the Caribbean and being carried by ocean currents. This species is not being raised commercially in the US.
Tiger shrimp were most recently reported by commercial fishermen in the Mississippi Sound near the East Biloxi Channel in late July.
Prior encounters include sightings in the Mississippi Sound near Pascagoula in 2009.
Since 2006, the tiger shrimp has been found in the waters of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and North and South Carolina.
"Most of the reports we've received most recently have been from fishermen working in Louisiana and landing their catch in Mississippi," said Mike Pursley, aquatic invasive species coordinator and field project manager for the MDMR.
Asian tiger shrimp are typically larger than brown and white shrimp more commonly found in the Mississippi Sound and are native to Southeast Asia, Australia and the Philippines.
The species can be easily identified by a black and white "tiger" stripped pattern on the shell, they can grow to more than 10 inches long and weigh more than a half-pound with a life span between two and three years.
In October, the MDMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau mailed a notice containing Asian tiger shrimp identifying characteristics and contact information to all Mississippi shrimpers as well as dealer/processors.
Fishermen are asked to report any encounters with this invasive species because exotic shrimp such as the tiger shrimp may pose environmental threats such as spreading disease, aggression toward native shrimp and competition for food and habitat.
"We just don't know enough about potential effects at this time," Pursley said. "That's why we would encourage shrimpers and seafood processors or anyone else to call the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources if you encounter the Asian tiger shrimp."