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Shrimpers often work together
Commercial Pink Shrimp Fishing


About the pink shrimp fishery

The pink shrimp (Pandalus jordani) is found on sandy and muddy bottoms in 40-150 fathoms along the West Coast of North America. Pink shrimp stocks have historically been centered in Oregon where they have been harvested since 1957. Populations vary widely from year to year, which is common for many short-lived crustaceans. Landings in 2015 were 53 million pounds and have averaged 30 million pounds per year over the last 30 years.

Oregon's pink shrimp fishery has been certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council since 2007. This was the first shrimp fishery to be certified such see article. This certification, was achieved in large part via to cooperative work between industry and ODFW which implemented changes in gear reduce bycatch.

The pink shrimp is a small shrimp in comparison to many shrimp and prawns seen in supermarkets and restaurants. Pink shrimp are often marketed as "salad shrimp" or "cocktail shrimp". Pink shrimp in Oregon have a maximum life span of four years. Natural mortality is high in each year and one and two year olds typically dominate the commercial catch.


Harvest methods

Shrimp codend
Shrimp codend being dumped in hopper

Pink shrimp are harvested by trawl boats. Most of Oregon’s boats are “double rig” boats; meaning a net is set out from each of the trawl arms and independent of each other.

Oregon shrimp trawl boats typically work between 75 and 125 fathoms (450 to 750 feet) on mud and muddy-sand substrates. Shrimp migrate up off the bottom at night to feed, so vessels don't fish at night. Boats often work together to locate the highest densities and largest sizes of shrimp.

Codends, the terminal end of fishing nets, are emptied into a hopper, from which the catch is carried by conveyor belt for sorting. The catch is then sent to the hold where it is packed in ice for transport. Fishermen deliver the catch into coastal ports for processing, which is done with machines that cook and mechanically peel the shrimp.


Biology of harvest

Unsorted shrimp
Unsorted shrimp tow in a hopper

Oregon’s shrimp resource is managed primarily using season and size.

Shrimping is open from April 1 to October 31 each year. This season nearly eliminates interference with their reproductive season which typically occurs from December to March. Another benefit of this season is lessening the take of “zero” age shrimp. These shrimp are the emerging "young of the year" that need time to grow to be big enough to harvest.

Oregon fisherman are required to deliver shrimp that average 160 per pound or larger (lower count). With that requirement fisherman will move out of areas containing a high percentage of small shrimp .

Another important aspect of the regulations is the requirement that fishermen use Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD's). Developed through cooperative research between fishermen and ODFW biologists, BRDs are aluminum grids or net panels that guide fish out of shrimp nets while keeping the shrimp in. BRDs have greatly reduced fish bycatch in Oregon's pink shrimp fishery, turning it into one of cleanest shrimp trawl fisheries in the world.

In 2014, ODFW and PFMC performed an experiment that has changed the way the pink shrimp fishery operates. By attaching LED lights to the fishing line of trawl nets researchers found that fish were attracted away from the nets. Findings showed 90% reduction of Eulachon smelt, 78% reduction of juvenile rockfish, 69% reduction of flatfish while having no significant impact on shrimp catch. see 2014 mid season report here. Soon after this nearly every shrimp boat immediately adopted the use of these LED lights.




Scott Groth- Marine Resources Program, Charleston
Phone: (541) 888-5515


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