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Commercial and recreational marine fisheries

Commercial Pink Shrimp Fishing

shrimp boats
Shrimpers often work together


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, and consequently fishery landings vary widely from year to year. 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 markets 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, one and two year olds typically dominate the commercial catch.


Harvest methods
Shrimp codend
Shrimp codend being dumped in hopper
Pink shrimp are harvested via trawling. 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 40 and 125 fathoms (240 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.


Sustainable harvest
Unsorted shrimp
Unsorted shrimp in hopper
Oregon’s pink shrimp resource is annually managed 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 November to March. Oregon shrimpers are required to deliver shrimp that average 160 per pound or larger (lower count). Given this regulation regarding size, fisherman move out of areas containing a high percentage of small shrimp.
To assure long term sustainability, management focuses on 1) long term understanding of stock trends (via fishery monitoring, e.g. logbook analysis and dockside sampling) and 2) bycatch reduction (via gear research).


Bycatch Reduction
Shrimp codend
Halibut being safely exiting shrimp net via BRD
Gear research has lead to highly sophisticated shrimp nets with eliminate a maximum amount of bycatch while not affecting shrimp catch. Light emitting diode (LED) fishing lights at the front of the net help fish completely avoid the, while bycatch reduction devices (BRD's) physically exclude a high percentage of the large fish just before the codend. The result is a highly valuable shrimp fishery with extremely low bycatch rates. see illustration below.
Regulations require that shrimp fishermen use Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD's). Developed through cooperative research between fishermen and ODFW biologists, BRDs are aluminum grids that guide fish out of net, through an open hole in the trawl while keeping the shrimp in. BRDs have greatly reduced bycatch in Oregon's pink shrimp fishery.
In 2014, ODFW and PSFMC performed an experiment that has changed the way the pink shrimp fishery operates. By attaching LED fishing lights to the footrope 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 fishing lights.


shrimp net illustration




Scott Groth- Pink Shrimp Project Leader
Marine Resources Program, Charleston
Phone: (541) 888-5515

Matt Blume- Shrimp and Research Biologist
Marine Resources Program, Newport
Phone: (541) 867-4741

Jill Smith- Shellfish Biologist
Marine Resources Program, Astoria
Phone: (503) 325-2462


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