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Mass Die-off of Wild Shrimp Off SE Atlantic Coast

Posted by feww on November 4, 2013

Parasite decimates wild shrimp hauls off Georgia and South Carolina coasts

Black gill disease, caused by a tiny single-celled parasite called a ciliate, triggered a die-off of white shrimp during the August and October prime catch season off the U.S. southeast Atlantic coast, experts said.

The August haul plunged by about 75 percent from the same month last year, said Mel Bell, director of South Carolina’s Office of Fisheries Management.

In South Carolina the September catch was 44,000 pounds, less than 6 percent of the September, 2012 when shrimpers hauled in more than 750,000 pounds, said Bell.

White Shrimp – Black Gill Disease

A change in water salinity stresses the shrimp making them susceptible to being infected by the disease. The infection  lowers the shrimp endurance and makes them more vulnerable to predators, said Bell.

“It’s like the shrimp are smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and now they’re having to go run a marathon,” he said.

“Shrimpers are reporting to us that they dump the bag on the deck, and the shrimp are just dead.”

Many shrimpers fear that Georgia’s current black gill problem came from shrimp ponds in South Carolina, said Pat Mathews, owner of Lazaretto Packing Co.

“All the pond-raised shrimp have had problems with diseases and viruses,” he said. “Therefore, we need federal legislation preventing discharging these ponds into the ecosystem to prevent the spread to wild shrimp in the future.”

Georgia shrimpers are reportedly planning to petition the state for disaster status.

Shrimp are America’s most valuable and probably most popular seafood. Whole cultures and maritime communities are based solely on these crustaceans. South Carolina has two important penaeid shrimp species, brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) and white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus). A third species, the pink shrimp (Farfantepenaeus duorarum), is relatively scarce. Methods of harvest range from large commercial shrimp trawlers to cast nets and drop nets. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources- Marine Resource Division

litopenaeussetiferus
White shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus). The most valuable fishery in the southeastern United States is the harvest of penaeid shrimp. In South Carolina and Georgia, this fishery is comprised of two species, the white (Litopeneausset-iferus) and brown (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) shrimps, with white shrimp dominating catches. Source: DNR

Asian Farmed Shrimp

The production of Asian farmed shrimp also plunged this year after a bacterial infection decimated stock in Thailand’s ponds, said a report, resulting in shortage of imports which in turn drove prices up.

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