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Fish MARINE RESOURCES
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shrimp boats
Shrimpers often work together
Commercial Pink Shrimp Fishing

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About the pink shrimp fishery

Although many shrimp species are found in waters off Oregon, the pink shrimp also known as the ocean shrimp (Pandalus jordani) is the only one found in quantities large enough to be commercially harvested. Pink shrimp have been harvested in Oregon since 1957. Populations vary widely from year to year, which is common for many short-lived crustaceans. Landings in 2005 were 15 million pounds and have averaged 26 million pounds per year over the last 31 years.

The pink shrimp is a small shrimp in comparison to many shrimp and prawns seen in supermarkets and restaurants. The market category for pink shrimp is often referred to as "cocktail shrimp", "salad shrimp" or simply "coldwater shrimp", because the major species that are harvested at these small sizes come from cold marine waters. Pink shrimp in Oregon have a life span of only four years and one and two year olds are the most common ages found in 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. Like many other modern fishing gears, these nets are high tech and efficient.

Oregon shrimp trawl boats generally 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 generally fish at night. Boats often work together to try and 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 one year old shrimp which are obviously smaller than their two year old counterparts.

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.

 

Shrimp bycatch
Shrimp from one tow with all bycatch in lower right

Clean Fishing

Oregon's pink shrimp fishery has recently been recommended by Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program as a "Best Choice" for environmentally concerned seafood consumers. This is primarily a result of the use of BRD's in this fishery to reduce bycatch. The picture to the left shows all catch from a shrimp haul using a 1.25 inch rigid-grate BRD. As you can see, the bycatch (in the two containers to the right) is a small fraction of the shrimp catch (all the other baskets pictured).

 

Contacts

Bob Hannah - Marine Resources Program, Newport
Phone: 541) 867-4741
E-mail: Bob.W.Hannah@state.or.us

Steve Jones - Marine Resources Program, Newport
Phone: (541) 867-4741
E-mail: Steve.A.Jones@state.or.us

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