Black tiger shrimp invade Gulf of Mexico, potentially threatening both US$700M Gulf shrimping industry and Gulf small oyster industry, says coastal and marine resources group

LOS ANGELES , December 16, 2011 () – Black tiger shrimp, which are native to the Indo-Pacific region, have been found in the Gulf of Mexico, sparking fears that they could potentially threaten both the US$700 million Gulf shrimping industry and the Gulf small oyster industry, AgriLife Today reported Dec. 16.

According to Tony Reisinger, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent with the coastal and marine resources in South Texas, thus far there have been 200 official reports concerning the presence of black tiger shrimp in the Gulf, with the southernmost find occurring in the Aransas Bay.

“They [Black tiger shrimp] are the biggest saltwater shrimp in the world. They are predatory, aggressive and could carry diseases that can harm native species of shrimp," Reisinger said. “Black tiger shrimp eat the same type of food as our three, much smaller native species, but as they grow they can also eat the native species, which are the brown, white and pink shrimp. And they prey on small oysters, threatening that industry as well.”

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as several other organizations including Texas A&M’s Texas Sea Grant, are currently conducting genetic studies on the black tiger shrimp in order to determine where they originate from.

“There are lots of unanswered questions about black tiger shrimp," Reisinger said. "We know there was an accidental release of black tigers from a research facility in South Carolina in 1988. Some were caught as far away as St. Augustine, Florida. But most were thought to have been caught by local fishermen, because in 1991 they suddenly disappeared. Then in 2006 they started showing up again. These could have come from a shrimp farm in the Caribbean that was breached by a hurricane a few years ago, but we just don’t know.

“The fear is that these cannibalistic shrimp have already established breeding populations in the Gulf.”

The primary source of this article is AgriLife Today, College Station, Texas, on Dec. 16, 2011.

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