Oregon Readies for a Productive Shrimp Harvest

By

Mercedes Grandin, SeafoodSource contributing editor

Published on
February 12, 2009

With the 2009 Oregon pink shrimp season on the horizon, the industry is weighing what looks to be a productive harvest against the rising uncertainties of the economy.

“The shrimp should be there, but the harvest will be determined by the market and ex-vessel price,” said Bob Hannah of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

“What we’re seeing in the ocean looks pretty good right now and we could potentially have more than last year, but it’s a matter of whether the market will allow it. The economy is such that even though shrimp is a good value, it’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen,” said Brad Pettinger, director of the Oregon Trawl Commission. “I think people put a lot in their freezers last year. It’s hard to say, but demand will probably be lower unless we see some opportunities arise during the season.”

Despite the uncertainty of prices and demand, supply is looking favorable. “It will be an excellent grade, and there will be no shortage of good product available,” said Pettinger.

Another positive for the industry is declining fuel costs. “Anything that allows the fleet to operate more efficiently as far as production costs is huge,” Pettinger said. “You can’t scrimp on fuel, so it’s most welcome to have lower fuel prices because $4 a gallon [last year] was just crippling,” he added.

While the Oregon pink shrimp fishery received MSC certification in December 2007, its impact on the industry has been tough to measure. “It’s not clear yet — there are still some tariffs in the European Union that affect our product, and I think we’re still waiting to see how that will shake out,” said Hannah.

“We were hoping to get more out of the MSC than we did. There are 36 fisheries certified now. [When] more species come online, then you’ll see more businesses using the MSC label. It’s always good to state that your fishery is certified under the highest standards in the world. People want the assurance that their fish is coming from a sustainable resource and they can feel good about that,” said Pettinger.

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