Caught fresh for you by Alabama Shrimping Families. Our Alabama Shrimping Fleet brings home 4 different types of shrimp-brown, white, pink and royal reds to be processed and made available to you.
In March of 2015, Alabama designated brown shrimp as the official state crustacean (family Penaeidea, order Descapoda, species Peneaus aztecus).
Brown, white, and pink shrimp spawn in the offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The tiny shrimp (postlarvae) are carried by tides and currents into the shallow, marshy areas of Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound.
In the protected, productive marshes, the postlarvae feed on a rich variety of food items and grow rapidly into juvenile shrimp.
Juveniles (about 1 to 2 inches in length), begin to leave the protected areas of the marsh for the bays and sounds. Here, the juveniles grow to adult and harvestable size.
Adult shrimp then continue to move to the deeper waters of the Gulf to spawn and complete their life cycle. The time period from egg to spawning adult is about 1 year.
Most shrimp do not survive to spawn again.
While all three species have this basic life cycle, each differs in the time of spawning and time of migration.
Brown shrimp (penaeus aztecus) spawn offshore from November to April. Young adults move out of the protected marsh areas from May to July and are harvested in large numbers during this period. Brown shrimp have an iodine-rich diet, which imparts a strong flavor that goes great with robust dishes like gumbo and jambalaya.
White shrimp (penaeus setiferus) spawn offshore from March to October. Juvenile whites appear to tolerate freshwater better than brown shrimp and may be found in very low salinity water. The young adults migrate to offshore waters from July to November and are caught primarily during these months.
White shrimp have a more mild flavor with natural sweetness because they’re found in areas with less salinity, like brackish estuaries and bayous. If you boil or sauté them, they’ll soak in the flavors of the sauces and seasonings.
Pink shrimp (penaeus duorum) spawn offshore from May through November and migrate out of the marshes from April to September. They are most often caught in the early spring.
Pink shrimp are also sweet with an even more mild flavor profile, so they pair well with dishes that feature delicate sauces (like shrimp and grits) and they grill up well
Royal Reds, to some the queen of all shrimp. Royal Reds (Pleoticus Robustus) are perhaps the sweetest, softest texture, and most delicate of all our native shrimp species.
These vibrant red shrimp never see the light of day, preferring the cold dark depths out at the edge, where the gently sloping bottom of the Gulf drops abruptly off the continental shelf. Depths from 1,200 feet to over a half mile down are the home to this sweetest of all shrimp.
While Royal Reds can be found all year long, their season runs from late summer through the end of fall. The best time for the freshest Royal Reds is during the peak month of September.
They can be identified by their large size, rich crimson color and their naturally salty and flavorful taste that has been compared to both Lobster and Bay Scallops.
The different life cycles explain why each species is most abundant during certain times of the year.
Blue crab is an economically important species in the state of Alabama. While landings are small compared to some of the other Gulf States, Alabama processes approximately 50% of the blue crabs processed in the Gulf of Mexico, making the state a large net importer of live crabs. Production drastically increased in the 1908s with an increased processing capacity as Southeast Asians with fishery experience immigrated to the area. The number of fishermen peaked in 1989 at 221, and the average number in the last ten years has been 196 (Perry and VanderKooy 2015).
Landings of blue crab in Alabama were highest in 2000 at 4.8 million pounds with dockside value of $3.1 million. In 2013, landings were just above one million pounds worth a little over one million dollars.
Flavor is not the only thing that keeps seafood lovers coming back for more crab. Crabmeat is packed with protein, B vitamins and minerals, making it a perfect part of a balanced diet. Crabmeat is a low-calorie protein source that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
You'll find the freshest catch between March and November. During these prime months, blue crabs can be found scuttling near the shore or in bay waters along the coast. Crabs migrate to deeper waters once cold weather sets in.
Crab fishermen start their day around 4:00 a.m. and organize their catch as No. 1, No. 2 and females before sending them to the processors. No. 1's are the largest males, containing the most meat, while No. 2's are smaller males. A crab must measure at least five inches point-to-point to be legal. Otherwise it is released.
Alabama commercial fishermen land a variety of fish including red snapper, vermillion snapper, Spanish mackerel, flounder, menhaden, mullet, and sharks. striped mullet, ladyfish, and swordfish
The landings associated with a fishing community tell us what species are important to that community.
The diversity of species caught also is indicative of a community’s ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions (e.g. populations of specific fish stocks) or changes in fishing regulations that restrict access to resources.
The number of fishing vessels in a given port provides a sense of the scale of fishing in that port. Where a large port may serve as the homeport for hundreds of vessels, a smaller one may only have a handful.
The number of vessels also may provide a rough sense of the number of fishing-related jobs
Larger commercial vessels can travel farther offshore and stay out for longer periods more easily than smaller vessels.
The longline fishery may stay at sea for a week. Many times the fishermen fish overnight and crab or oyster during the day.
Did you KNOW???
In Alabama you have the right to know the country of origin of the seafood served in Alabama Restaurants, grocery stores, fish markets...anywhere seafood is sold or served.
The next time you purchase seafood from your favorite establishment ASK WHERE IT CAME FROM (and the water is not a good answer). The answer may determine your choice!!!
Alabama waters contain several of the more than 100 species of oysters found throughout the world. Among those in Alabama, only the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginia) is commercially important. Oysters, along with mussels and scallops, are among the invertebrates called pelecypods (hatchet foot) that are included in the phylum Mollusca (clams, snails, squids, and octopods).
Oysters are one of the most sustainable proteins in the world. They require nutrients which they filter from up to 50 gallons of water per day.
Oyster Reefs help protect the shoreline from the effects of wind, waves and they provide nursey habitat for many species. Oysters form the base of marine food webs.
Oyster management can be divided into two areas of concern—public health and conservation. The Alabama Department of Public Health (Seafood Division) and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Marine Resources Division) monitor the waters around oyster reefs.
They close the reefs to harvesting when bacterial counts indicate that disease-causing organisms are above acceptable levels. These closures generally coincide with high river flow in winter and early spring, which carries increased pollution into the lower portion of Mobile Bay. Bacteria and other pollutants cause problems for oysters because they are filter feeders and can concentrate harmful substances in their body tissues. Generally, these pollutants do not harm the oysters but make them unfit to eat, especially raw.
Oyster abundance within a harvest area is another factor considered by regulatory officials when opening or closing a particular area. The Marine Resources Division conserves oysters by requiring licenses, by enforcing a size limit of 3 inches (wild caught), and by allowing only hand or oyster tong harvest on public reefs.
One acre of oyster reefs provides a value of $6,500 in denitrification (removing nitrogen) and $2,125 in shoreline stabilization per year.
Sustainable oyster harvesting are part of coastal habitat conservation and restoration as well as economic revitalization.
Oysters are considered to be a “keystone species” for our waterways. Oysters help to improve the water quality in our bays by feeding on excess phytoplankton.
Compared to the traditional tonging method of oyster harvesting in Alabama, farmed oysters present a unique opportunity to capitalize on a growing market without facing a high degree of risk.
Farm-raised oysters are still a relatively new commodity in the Gulf of Mexico—in fact, just as recently as 2009, there wasn’t a single oyster farm in Alabama. Now, thanks to an increasing demand for a premium product, there are 18 Alabama oyster farms currently in operation with new farms in the works. These commercial oyster farms now in operation here in Alabama generate almost two million dollars in value.
Seafood restaurants and oyster bars throughout the state and beyond are featuring these boutique oysters on their menus, and food enthusiasts at every level are enjoy the surplus of local product.
While starting your own oyster farm does involve a significant investment in terms of time and money, there are plenty of success stories to model your business after.
Eating oysters with high concentrations of bacteria may pose a health risk to consumers.
In commercial operations, this risk is managed by allowing the harvest of oysters only from waters that the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has classified as “conditionally approved” through a nationally recognized sampling process. While this is not required for personal consumption, it is strongly recommended that people follow this guideline and grow oysters for personal consumption only in waters that are conditionally approved and open for harvest (e.g., not closed by ADPH due to high rainfall). Consumers also should be aware of the risks associated with eating raw oysters, even when harvested from open, conditionally approved waters. There are naturally occurring bacteria called vibrios that may cause adverse health consequences, particularly for immune-compromised individuals. This risk is managed by ensuring that harvested oysters are chilled and kept cold within specific time frames to prevent the vibrios from multiplying and increasing the risk. It is strongly recommended that anyone harvesting oysters for personal consumption be aware of the risk and follow the requirements used for commercial harvest. Before you begin to raise oysters for personal consumption, you should contact the ADPH to confirm the status of the growing waters where you are located. Additionally, become familiar with the time and temperature requirements for commercial harvest of oysters for live, raw consumption.
ALABAMA Seafood "ABILITIES"
A lot has been said about seafood accountability; you can be sure in Alabama we take accountability seriously. Our seafood is put through incredibly strict safety testing procedures. Alabama Commercial Fishermen are held accountable to meet standards on federal, state and local levels. Imported seafood may be lower in cost; it's also lower in safety testing requirements.
Our Commercial Fishermen are from generations who grew up learning about the commitment to practice sustainable harvesting techniques. Their dedication to sustainable harvesting will ensure successful fishing and maintain the rich culture, heritage, and traditions of our fishing community for generations to come.
There are several programs used in Alabama to "trace" our seafood - Gulf Trace, Gulf Wild and Trace Register are a few. These programs help drive increased market demand for Alabama Wild Caught Seafood by telling its story and ensuring confidence in the market. Traceability from the source (area and Boat) to market...or Tide to Table as we like to say. Alabama Commercial fishermen take pride in knowing you can trace where you products come from.
The port of Bayou La Batre, is the most important fishing port for Alabama. Known as the “Seafood Capital of Alabama”, the port city receives $30 million annually in seafood landings. Bon Secour of Gulf Shores is another important port for seafood.
Seafood processing is a major industry in Alabama. In addition to processing seafood landed in the state, Alabama-based companies process seafood from and for other states. Bayou La Batre is #1 in Oyster Processing in the state.
The Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources manages commercial fisheries in the state-owned waters while the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) manages fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico's Exclusive Economic Zone.
Find restaurants and markets that sell local seafood and get to know the people who keep this vital food system going. Supporting your local catch means that you support local seafood farmers and fishermen, and the communities they in turn support.
Every fish has a story, you can learn about it from tide to table on this video. ALWAYS ask where you seafood comes from!!