The Oregon Pink Shrimp Fishery: A Story in Sustainability

Oregon Pink Shrimp Fishery

The Oregon Pink Shrimp Fishery: A Story in Sustainability

The dramatic coastline of Oregon stretches for 363 miles along the Pacific from the Columbia River in the north to California in the south. Oregon’s waters are home to some of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. The region might best be known for Dungeness crab, but shrimp is a close second. And according to NOAA, shrimp is the most popular seafood in the country. The Oregon pink shrimp fishery was the first shrimp fishery anywhere certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

A Little Bit about Pink Shrimp

Oregon pink shrimp are smaller than the larger prawns often served in restaurants. In fact, they’re often labeled as salad shrimp or cocktail shrimp. Most of the shrimp that is caught is one to two years old, but they can live up to four years in the wild. Shrimp have the distinction of being born males and becoming female as they grow older. They are usually about four inches long.

A Growing Industry

Oregon’s shrimp industry was slow to develop. As late as the 1950s, very little shrimp was caught. Since then it has grown to account for almost 20% of Oregon’s total commercial fishing output by 2012.

A Story in Sustainability

About 40 boats with otter trawls up to 85 feet in length work the Oregon fishery.  Otter trawls are nets that have boards attached to the sides. As a fishing boat pulls the net forward, the boards pull away from each other to open up the net. The fishery has moved to using smaller nets that encourage the release of smaller shrimp to limit bycatch. There is also an effort to fish just above the bottom to avoid catching other fish.

The Benefits of Sustainable Fishing

Very quickly, the Oregon shrimp fishers made a serious effort to adapt sustainable practices. Their efforts have paid off—allowing them to successfully fish while maintaining healthy numbers so the shrimp can naturally replenish themselves. The fishery was certified as sustainable in December 2007 and recertified February 2013.

Trace your can of Wild Selections Tiny Pink Shrimp to learn more about the sustainable fishery your product came from.

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