RASS Records

Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) in Canadian waters, Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 3, Demersal otter trawl

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Content Last Updated
30 October 2015

Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) is found in the Northwest Atlantic from Baffin Bay to the Gulf of Maine with the highest population densities occurring in water temperatures of 0-4?C, most frequently at depths of 150-600 m and is associated with soft muddy substrates. This species can reach a maximum total length of 120 mm for males and 165 mm for females; and is a protandric hermaphrodite, maturing first as a male but changing sex at an age of around 3 to 7 years old and completing the remainder of their live cycle as a female. Shrimp spawn from late summer to autumn, and females carry their eggs until spring when the larvae hatch. Some females may survive to repeat the spawning process in succeeding years. Natural mortality seems to be most pronounced immediately following hatching, and most shrimp do not live past age 5. Newly hatched shrimp spend three to four months as pelagic larvae, and at the end of this period they move to deeper waters and take up the life style of adults (Skúladóttir, 1998; Idoine, 2006; Aschan et al., 2011; DFO, 2013).

The offshore fleet fishing in shrimp fishing area (SFA) 3 (Figure 1) is comprised of 13 large factory freezer trawlers operating from ports in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Canada. Vessels in the present fleet are 49 to 75 m in length, purpose built for shrimp trawling and processing, but are also able to harvest and process groundfish if required. The fishing season in all shrimp fishing areas (SFA’s 2 to 6) runs from April 1st to March 31st of each year. The offshore fleet fish all year round, starting in SFA 5 and 6 then moving north up to SFA 3 and further into SFA 2 when weather conditions and quotas allow (Aschan et al., 2011).

Most northern shrimpare found in Hudson Strait north of Akpatok Island. The Western Assessment Zone is dominated by striped shrimp (Pandalus montagui), with northern shrimp constituting 25% of the total shrimpbiomass. Observer records reported catches of 60 tonnes of northern shrimp in 2010/11, 0 tonnes in 2011/12 and 6 tonnes in 2012/13. The status of the stock has improved and is considered healthy by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, with the most recent trawl survey indicating that the population biomass and the spawning stock biomass has increased since 2009. Management of this stock initially was by a combined total allowable catch (TAC) for northern shrimp and striped shrimp in SFAs 2 and 3.

With the implementation of a new management regime, the direct TAC for targeted fishing of northern shrimp was established for the first time in 2013/14 at 1 500 tonnes. Northern shrimp were mainly taken as bycatch and allocated 400 tonnes of a bycatch TAC prior to the implementation of the new management regime. Catch records, as of the 3rd January 2014, show that about 973 tonnes has been landed or 65% of the TAC (DFO, 2013; 2014).

Figure 1. Location of the SFA 2 (SFA 2CM + SFA 2EX) and adjacent SFAs in respect to stock assessment zones off east Canada (Western - WZA and Eastern - EZA) and Resolution Island Survey Area (RISA). Borders between SFAs are shown in grey (right picture). Boundaries of the Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut land claims are shown in red (DFO, 2013).













Aschan, M., Powles, H. and Angel, J. 2011. MSC Assessment Report for The Canadian Offshore Northern Shrimp (Pandalus borealis) Trawl Fishery - Shrimp Fishing Areas 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 Client: Canadian Association of Prawn Producers and the Northern Coalition Version: Stakeholder Comment Draft. 153 pp.

DFO. 2013. Assessment of Northern Shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and Striped Shrimp (Pandalus

montagui) in the eastern and western assessment zones (Shrimp Fishing Areas 2 and 3). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2013/031.

DFO. 2014. Update of stock status indicators for Northern Shrimp, Pandalus borealis, and Striped Shrimp, Pandalus montagui, in the western and eastern assessment zones. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2014/003.

Idoine, J. 2006. Northern shrimp. Status of Fishery Resources off the Northeastern US NEFSC - Resource Evaluation and Assessment Division. 13 pp. Available at: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/sos/spsyn/iv/shrimp/

Skúladóttir, U. 1998. Size at sexual maturity of female Northern Shrimp (Pandalus borealis Krøyer) in the Denmark Strait 1985–93 and a comparison with the nearest Icelandic shrimp populations. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci., 24: 27–37.


Northern shrimp in Canadian waters, Shrimp Fishing Area 3 (SFA 3) has been scored a low risk. This is because the species has a relatively low maximum vulnerability score of 34/100 (Townsend, 2014), and the most recent trawl survey indicates that population biomass and spawning stock biomass is increasing. The low vulnerability score epitomises the robust life history characteristics of this species which makes it resilient to fishing activities (e.g. early maturation (<5 years), short life cycle (< 10 years), small maximum size and low on food chain), and corresponds to the FishBase / SeaLifeBase vulnerability score of between 0 and 35 (Townsend, 2014). Therefore as a precautionary approach, we assume the worst case scenario and selected the maximum vulnerability score of 34 to derive RASS risk score.

The management of northern shrimp in Canadian waters, SFA 3 has been scored a very low risk. This is because management decisions are informed by an annual stock assessment, catches of northern shrimp have been below the advised catch over the last year, and there is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place The management measures in place adequately protect the stock from overexploitation, and regulations are enforced and independently verified.

The demersal otter trawl fishery for northern shrimp in SFA 3 has been scored a low risk. This is because bycatch in the demersal otter trawl fleet is negligible (<5% of total catch weight for northern and stripped shrimp combined) and all vessels in the fishery have taken steps to reduce the absolute quantity of bycatch by using a Nordmore separator grate and to minimise the bycatch of threatened species through best practice.

The habitat impact of the demersal otter trawl fishery for northern shrimp in SFA 3 has been scored a moderate risk. Although demersal otter trawls interact with seabed habitat, all vessels in the fishery have taken steps to reduce their habitat impact by using appropriate gear technology and several closed areas have been established to protect sensitive seabed habitats.

TypeCurrent Risk StatusOutlookReason
StockLow Improving The status of the stock is likely to improve in the future given that this species has a low vulnerability score and spawning stock biomass has been increasing in recent years. Catches have been below the recommended TAC over the last year.
ManagementVery low Stable The management of this stock is likely to remain stable in the future given that the stock assessment is updated annually and measures are in place to adequately protect the stock from overexploitation. Regulations are enforced and independently verified using several surveillance measures.
BycatchLow Stable Bycatch levels in this fishery are negligible (<5% of catch weight) and all vessels have taken steps to minimise the capture of non-target species.
HabitatModerate Improving All vessels in the fishery have taken steps to reduce the footprint of the gear on the seabed by using appropriate gear technology and several closed areas have been established to protect sensitive seabed habitats.

Nutrition information from 100g raw product

Rich in:
Vitamin B12
Vitamin E
Good Source Of:
70 (kcal)
0.9 (g)
0.2 (g)
0 (g)
1.5 (g)