US pink shrimp fleet chooses to temporarily delay harvesting

An overabundance of sub-legal sized shrimp has prompted Oregon’s pink shrimp fleet to stand down and suspend harvesting operations for the time being.

The suspension, agreed to on 4 May, was prefaced by six years of record catches for the fleet. Expectations had been lowered for the current season considering this winter’s El Nino, which rose to a ‘super’ status; typically, shrimp recruitment is negatively impacted by El Nino. However, those concerns have since been eliminated, according to the Oregon Trawl Commission.

Instead, it was a price dispute that delayed the start of the 2016 season for three weeks. Once the Oregon shrimping fleet hit the water following the hiatus, they began to notice a strong year class of one-year-old shrimp.

“It looks like we dodged a bullet,” said Newport-based shrimp fishermen Ted Gibson, quoted in the Oregon Trawl Commission’s news release. “The last two big El Ninos in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 really depressed the stocks, so we’re pretty happy to see that last year’s hatch survived through the winter.”

After a week of discussion, it was decided that keeping the boats out of the water was the best course of action, to allow the fast-growing Oregon pink shrimp to come to size.

“It just makes sense,” said Brad Pettinger, director of the Oregon Trawl Commission. “The additional time for the shrimp to grow means more money for fishermen in the long run and consumers will continue to get a premium product when fishing resumes.”

The pink shrimp fishery in Oregon is the world’s first certified sustainable shrimp fishery – the Marine Stewardship Council deemed the fishery sustainable in 2007. The fishery led the state of Oregon with respect to ex-vessel value in 2015, raking in over USD 40 million (EUR 35.1 million).


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