Well, being in the U.S. and not over there, I can't confirm or deny that THAT was the reason but the news spread through the industry at that time. However, most of the shrimp we were getting back then were coming from the Philippines so who knows what the truth is? I've not heard of any starfish population explosions in the Philippines directly caused by the reduction of this shrimp's population.
I think, like many other things blamed on the tropical fish industry, it's more a natural phenomenon not a reduction of 1 animal that caused/causes this as a total removal of all shrimp didn't occur to the best of my knowledge. Now I'm not saying it didn;t play a part but I'm sure it also goes along with the ideology that coral reefs are dying because of over harvesting for the industry as well as the population bloom of jellyfish because the industry hasn't taken enough of them out of "the system." We all know that these are not caused by the tropical fish industry alone. But, as I said, it may explain why you haven't seen them before.
There is a way for you to enjoy their antics without the feeding hassles. Place a video screen behind the tank and play a loop of these colorful shrimp frolicking in the water. You will see them all the time when looking at your tank.