Shrimpers encouraged to report Asian tiger prawn catches

Published: May. 16, 2012 at 8:38 PM CDT|Updated: May. 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM CDT
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Baton Rouge, La. - Shrimpers are encouraged to report catches of Asian tiger prawns to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Wildlife officials say the reports will help LDWF biologists monitor the spawning populations and potential of this non-native species to spread through Louisiana waters.

Recent sighting indicate increased numbers of the prawns along the Gulf Coast, although LDWF officials say little is currently known about the impacts of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp.

To report catches of Asian tiger prawns, you are asked to contact Robert Bourgeois at (225) 765-2401 or Marty Bourgeois at (225) 765-2401.

The reports should include the date, location and size of capture.   Pictures are encouraged.

Tiger prawns are easily identifiable by their large size, dark body color and white banding found along the head and between segments of the tail.

LDWF officials ask that harvesters retain the tiger prawns by freezing and contact the biologists listed above.

It is unknown when and how tiger prawns were first introduced into the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1988, a portion of a population of reared tiger prawns escaped from a facility on the east coast.

Approximately 1,000 adults were later recaptured as far south as Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In September 2006, a single adult male was captured by a commercial shrimp fisherman in Mississippi Sound near Dauphin Island, Alabama and reports from Alabama and Mississippi have been increasing ever since.

LDWF first documented the occurrence of Asian tiger prawns in Louisiana in August 2007, when a single specimen was taken by a commercial shrimp fisherman in Vermilion Bay.

Prior to the 2011 fall inshore shrimp season, reported captures in Louisiana waters numbered fewer than 25 with none taken any farther westward than Vermilion Bay.

However, since the fall season began, reported captures have dramatically increased with approximately 80 new reports received.

One fisherman alone reported catching as many as 13 individuals over a three-day shrimping trip in Lake Pontchartrain.

A Dulac shrimp dock has reported fishermen capturing in excess of 100 tiger prawns following the 2011 fall season opening.

Most recently, there have also been incident reports west of Vermilion Bay.

Asian tiger prawns are native to the Indo-Pacific rim and are both harvested in the wild and extensively farmed in a number of countries.

Tiger prawns belong to the same family (Penaeidae) as our native brown, white and pink shrimp but are non-indigenous to our waters.

The life history of tiger prawns is also similar to that of brown and white shrimp with spawning and mating occurring in nearshore oceanic waters.

One notable difference in tiger prawns and Louisiana shrimp is size as the research suggests tiger prawns may reach a maximum length of 14 inches and weigh as much as 23 ounces.

At this time, there is no evidence that tiger prawns feed on native Louisiana shrimp.

Any potential impacts over competition for food and resources remain unknown.

Tiger prawns as well as our native brown and white shrimp adopt different diets as they grow and mature and may become more predatory as body size increases.