Lagoon Critical To Local Shrimp Industry

By  //  November 14, 2013

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principal nursery grounds for shrimping

Laurilee Thompson

Laurilee Thompson

ABOVE VIDEO: ”A Day on the Indian River Lagoon” in Brevard County with Laurilee Thompson, owner of Dixie Crossroads in Titusville Florida, and passionate guardian and advocate of the Space Coast environment. The health of the Indian River Lagoon has been an issue that has been gathering media attention in news outlets across the country. “It’s devastating what is happening to our lagoon,” said Thompson.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – There was a recent local TV report asking, “Are local shrimp safe to eat?”  

Here is my answer and I hope you will see my intent is to help with some facts.   Yes, local shrimp are safe to eat.  Our domestic seafood products come from facilities that are highly regulated and routinely inspected by officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Central Floridians are fortunate to have a safe, chemical free supply of domestic wild shrimp that are harvested from clean ocean waters off of our coast.  They are caught by hard working American fishermen in a dangerous occupation who love what they do. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Central Floridians are fortunate to have a safe, chemical free supply of domestic wild shrimp that are harvested from clean ocean waters off of our coast. They are caught by hard working American fishermen in a dangerous occupation who love what they do. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

More than 90 percent of shrimp that are consumed in the U.S. are farm raised imported shrimp.  Central Floridians are fortunate to have a safe, chemical free supply of domestic wild shrimp that are harvested from clean ocean waters off of our coast.

They are caught by hard working American fishermen in a dangerous occupation who love what they do.

Rock shrimp are caught 15-35 miles offshore in 90-300 feet of water. Royal red shrimp come from even deeper waters – 45-55 miles offshore in 1200-1800 feet of water. Unlike white shrimp, brown shrimp, pink shrimp and hoppers, at no point in their life cycle do rock shrimp or royal red shrimp spend time anywhere near an estuary.

INDIAN RIVER LAGOON NURSERY FOR SHRIMPING INDUSTRY

Over the last two years, 47,000 acres of sea grass have disappeared from the Indian River Lagoon, one of the principal nursery grounds for the east coast shrimping industry.

Shrimp spawn in the ocean and their offspring migrate through inlets into the Indian River Lagoon where they grow in the shelter of the sea grass beds.  When they reach maturity, they go back out the inlets and into the ocean to spawn.  That is when the big shrimp boats can catch them. (image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Shrimp spawn in the ocean and their offspring migrate through inlets into the Indian River Lagoon where they grow in the shelter of the sea grass beds. When they reach maturity, they go back out the inlets and into the ocean to spawn. That is when the big shrimp boats can catch them. (image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Four of the previously mentioned species of soft shrimp spawn in the ocean and their offspring migrate through inlets into the Indian River Lagoon where they grow in the shelter of the sea grass beds.

When they reach maturity, they go back out the inlets and into the ocean to spawn.  That is when the big shrimp boats can catch them.

No sea grass = no shrimp.  It also means no food for the manatees, no place for crabs, mullet and other bait fish to live, which means no food for pelicans and wading birds.  No forage fish = nothing for recreational sport fish to eat.

No sea grass = no shrimp. It also means no food for the manatees, no place for crabs, mullet and other bait fish to live, which means no food for pelicans and wading birds. No forage fish = nothing for recreational sport fish to eat.

All of this means a tragic loss of our wonderful seafood products and a hazard to a tourism economy which depends heavily on healthy natural resources.  The demise of the Indian River Lagoon is a real threat to our Central Florida community’s economy and our enviable quality of life.

For more information or to volunteer to help the Indian River Lagoon, visit the Marine Resources Council website: www.mrcirl.org. To learn about what happened to our lagoon and what is being done to address the problems, visit: www.itsyourlagoon.com.

CLICK HERE for an update on Beach Renourishment Projects submitted by Mike McGarry with the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department .


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