Marine - Species
SC Species Regulations for White Shrimp
Taking shrimp without bait: Saltwater Fishing License required. May 1 – December 15: limit 48 quarts whole or 29 quarts headed per boat/party per day, December 16 – April 30: limit 12 dozen shrimp per boat.
Shrimp Baiting License and individual pole marker tags required; mid September – mid November: limit 48 quarts whole or 29 quarts headed per boat/person per day; shrimp may not be sold.
Saltwater Recreational Fishing License required; open year-round.
White Shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus)
Light gray to whitish; no grooves at base of rostrum or along the head; long, thin rostrum; dark brown antennae 2x-3x longer than body. Uropods with a dark base and yellow-green edges.
4 – 6 inches;
South Carolina maximum size: approx. 10 inches;
maximum age: approx. 2 years
Adults: Inhabit estuarine waters, typically over muddy bottoms and in habitats with high detritus loads; move to offshore mud bottom habitats during and following spawning.
Juveniles: Utilize tidal creeks, oyster reefs and estuaries, typically over muddy bottoms; move closer to estuary mouths as growth continues.
- Adults mature between April and June of their first year. Approx. size at maturity: males – 6.1 inches, females – 5.3 inches.
- Migrate to nearshore coastal areas with muddy bottoms for summer spawning.
- Post-larvae believed to use nearshore tidal and wind-driven currents to move into estuaries during spring and summer. Utilize shallow, muddy tidal creeks with low to moderate salinity as nursery grounds; migrate to deeper reaches of estuaries as juveniles.
- All sizes of white shrimp are opportunistic bottom-feeders. Adults and juveniles typically feed at night.
- Adults: Actively prey upon marine worms, larvae of other crustaceans, and small fishes; also consume plant and animal detritus; may cannibalize other white shrimp, especially at higher population densities.
- Juveniles: Diet includes small benthic worms, plant matter, fish and invertebrate fecal pellets, and decaying animals. Larval stages consume zooplankton and phytoplankton.
Availability/Vulnerability to Harvest
- Distribution and abundance correlated with temperature. Low temperatures slow growth, delay maturity, and may kill stocks overwintering in estuaries. Migration to spawning habitats and recruitment to commercial fisheries occur later following colder winters. Southward migrations in coastal waters may also occur during winter months; return migration northward with warming water.
- Distribution and abundance also related to salinity. All life stages apparently tolerate wide salinity ranges; however, localized movement into deeper water occurs after heavy rainfall. Larvae prefer low salinity waters; juveniles are most abundant at intermediate salinities (7 – 15 ppt), and adults to high salinity offshore water.
- Conservation concerns: degradation or loss of estuarine habitat vital to postlarvae and juveniles; alteration of freshwater runoff and variations in salinity due to upstream land use; pollution and compromised water quality; lack of understanding of disease prevalence; potentially high commercial and recreational fishing pressure – offshore abundance generally greatest within 5 miles of coast.
Abundance of Species
Data were collected from DNR's Crustacean and SCECAP surveys. DNR surveys indicate that white shrimp stocks were below average in 2011, due to cold temperatures in winter depleting the spawning stock. Stocks should recover if subsequent weather is favorable. Conditions in the 1990s were more conducive to good shrimp production, with adequate rainfall in most years, whereas drought conditions have been more prevalent in the past decade. More information.
Both the commercial trawl fishery and the recreational baiting fishery have been relatively stable over the last few years, although 2011 catches were lower because of shrimp mortality due to winter cold. Overall levels of catch and effort are much less than high levels observed in the 1990s, driven in part by continued low shrimp prices. Data presented in this graph were provided by DNR Fisheries Statistics Section. More information.
Delancey LB, JE Jenkins, MB Maddox, JD Whitaker, EL Wenner. 2005. Field observations on white shrimp, Litopenaeus setiferus, during spring spawning season in South Carolina, U.S.A., 1980-2003. J Crust Biol 25: 212-218.
Muncy RJ. 1984. Species profiles: life histories and environmental requirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates (South Atlantic) – white shrimp. U.S. Fish Wildl Serv FWS/OBS-82/11.27. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, TR EL-82-4. 19 pp. Available: http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/wdb/pub/species_profiles/82_11-027.pdf. Accessed: September, 2009.
Perez-Farfante I. 1969. Western Atlantic shrimps of the genus Penaeus. Fish Bull 67: 461-591.
U.S.N.M.F.S. 1981. Profile of the Penaeid shrimp fishery in the South Atlantic. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. 321pp.
Wenner E, D Knott, J Blanton, C Barans. 1998. Roles of tidal and wind-generated currents in transporting white shrimp (Penaeus setiferus) postlarve through a South Carolina (USA) inlet. J Plank Res 20: 2333-2356.