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Tiger prawn. (Photo Credit: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries)

Louisiana shrimpers asked to report foreign tiger prawn

  (UNITED STATES, 8/29/2014)

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is aware of and constantly monitoring the presence of Asian tiger prawn, a non-native species, in Louisiana waters. This is why LDWF officials are asking local shrimp harvesters to report catches of tiger prawn to the Department.

While there is little known at this time about the impacts of tiger prawn on indigenous Louisiana shrimp, these reports are key in helping LDWF biologists monitor the distribution and relative abundance of these prawn specimens and in determining the possible presence of spawning populations.

Those wanting to report catches of Asian tiger prawn must detail the date, location and size of capture. Photographs are encouraged.

To aid shrimp dealers in documenting tiger prawn landings, the LDWF has added tiger prawn (species code 19) to the Commercial Trip Ticket reporting system.

Tiger prawn specimens are easily identifiable by their large size, dark body colour and white banding found along the head and between segments of the tail. Occasionally, red or yellow stripes are present as well. LDWF officials ask that harvesters retain the tiger prawn by freezing.

It is unknown when and how tiger prawn specimens were first introduced into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1988, a portion of a population of reared tiger prawn 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.

The LDWF first documented the occurrence of Asian tiger prawn 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 2011, commercial shrimpers have reported Asian tiger prawn catches in all of Louisiana’s major estuarine basins, including adjacent offshore waters.

Reports of tiger prawn have remained between 70 and 100 over the last three years. It is uncertain whether this is due to population stabilization or under reporting by the public.

The Asian tiger prawn is native to the Indo-Pacific rim and is both harvested in the wild and extensively farmed in a number of countries. It belongs to the same family (Penaeidae) as Louisiana's native brown shrimp, but one notable difference between them is size. Research suggests the tiger prawn may reach a maximum length of 14 inches and weigh as much as 23 ounces.

At this time, there is no evidence that tiger prawn specimens feed on native Louisiana shrimp. Any potential impacts over competition for food and resources remain unknown. The tiger prawn, as well as the native brown and white shrimp, adopts different diets as they grow and mature and may become more predatory as body size increases.


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