NOAA’s Preliminary Reporting Shows Shrimp Landings in the Gulf of Mexico in 2021 Higher Than 2020, But Data Also Appear to Be Substantially Understated

Yesterday, the Fishery Monitoring Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center released preliminary shrimp landings data from the Gulf of Mexico for December and the full year of 2021.

For the month of December, NOAA preliminarily reports that 4.4 million pounds of shrimp was landed in the Gulf of Mexico, the lowest total for any December in the historical archive maintained by the Southern Shrimp Alliance spanning twenty-two (22) years back to December 2000. Over the previous twenty-one (21) years, an average of 8.2 million pounds of shrimp had been harvested in the Gulf of Mexico in the month of December. Total shrimp landings last month were also well below the 6.6 million pounds of shrimp preliminarily reported as landed in December 2020 and the 5.5 million pounds of landed shrimp preliminarily reported for December 2019.

For all of 2021, NOAA preliminarily reports that the total volume of shrimp landed in the Gulf of Mexico, 72.8 million pounds, is slightly higher than what it had preliminarily reported for 2020, 71.2 million pounds, while lower than what the agency preliminarily reported for 2019 – 80.8 million pounds. Overall, however, landings for 2021 were substantially (39.4%) below the 120.0 million pound average of the prior twenty-one (21) years.

As with the agency’s reporting for July, August, September, October, and November the numbers released by NOAA for December include substantial revisions to the agency’s previous preliminary reporting of shrimp landings in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. These revisions reflect changes to past preliminary reporting such that they now reflect the actual, final shrimp landings data reported by the states. Accordingly, the numbers included in NOAA’s December 2021 Shrimp Statistics report published by the agency and available on its website are inconsistent with the Shrimp Statistics reports issued for that month in the preceding four years.

The summary charts produced by the Southern Shrimp Alliance set out the differences in the preliminary numbers initially reported for December 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 and the revised numbers that are currently being reported for these months. The breakdown of these differences by state demonstrates that the impact of the revisions varies depending on state, with landings in Louisiana being substantially underreported in preliminary figures.

On average, the preliminary numbers initially reported by NOAA for shrimp landings in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 were 39.3 percent lower than the revised final numbers currently being reported. The discrepancy has increased over time, growing from 36.5 percent in 2017 to 37.0 percent in 2018 to 40.1 percent in 2019 and then to 43.8 percent in 2020. The chart below compares NOAA’s initial preliminary reporting for those four years to the current, revised reporting of final figures. If the discrepancy between the preliminary numbers reported in 2020 and the final numbers currently being reported is used to estimate the underreporting of shrimp landings in 2021, the total shrimp harvest in the Gulf of Mexico for last year would have been 101.4 million pounds.

Because the revisions reflect final rather than preliminary figures, the Southern Shrimp Alliance has not made conforming adjustments in its compilation of historic data reported by NOAA. The current monthly data being reported is preliminary and, as such, is more appropriately compared to the preliminary data for prior years.

Ex-vessel prices for shrimp landed in December in the western Gulf for all count sizes were reported by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, while ex-vessel prices were not reported by NOAA for the eastern Gulf (Florida west coast) and the northern Gulf (Alabama, Louisiana, & Mississippi). For the western Gulf, the ex-vessel prices reported for large shrimp (26/30 and larger) were significantly higher than the ex-vessel prices reported in December 2020, while prices for smaller shrimp (31/35 and smaller) were below the ex-vessel prices reported in December of last year.

Please click the following link to view SSA’s compilation and summary of December 2000-2021 Shrimp Landings and Ex-Vessel Prices for December 1999-2021 in the Gulf of Mexico:

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