The crispy crustaceans topped canned tuna as the nation's most eaten seafood last year. Tuna had been tops for as long as records have been kept — back to the mid-1950s — according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's annual assessment of the population's piscatorial preferences showed that Americans ate a record average of 3.4 pounds of shrimp last year.
That was up from 3.2 pounds the year before.
During the same period, canned tuna — long the reigning seafood plunged from 3.5 pounds per capita to 2.9 pounds.
Randi Thomas of the U.S. Tuna Foundation said growing sales of fresh tuna account for some of the decline in sales of the canned product.
In addition, she said, delicatessen sales account for a lot of canned tuna and after the terrorist attacks last fall there was a sharp decline in business at delis, especially in New York.
Overall consumption of fish and shellfish dipped last year, from 15.2 pounds to 14.8 pounds, NOAA's fisheries service reported.
Canned seafood consumption fell from 4.7 pounds to 4.2 pounds per person, while consumption of fresh and frozen seafood edged up, from 10.2 pounds to 10.3 pounds. The amount of cured seafood eaten was unchanged at 0.3 pounds per person.
Fish filets and steaks — including all types of fish — totaled 3.4 pounds per person, a 0.1 pound increase; while fish sticks and portions fell slightly from 0.9 pound to 0.8 pound.
According to figures from the United Nations, in total sales, the United States is the world's third largest consumer of fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan.