Northern Shrimp

Common Name:

Northern Shrimp

Scientific Name:

Pandalus borealis

Market Name(s):

Deep water prawn

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Sourcing Summary

125-250 count

Northern shrimp is available fresh and frozen as meat as well as cooked and peeled in the 100/300 size grades. A large supply of small shrimp that is cooked and peeled is available throughout the year. Larger coldwater shrimp have a better, sweeter flavor than smaller sizes and are worth the additional cost, according to some buyers. Coldwater shrimp meat is increasingly being sold fresh and most fresh meat is ungraded. The industry average is a 5% glaze, and those that are frozen, cooked and peeled meats always have a glaze. 

Buyer Beware: Additives such as tripolyphosphates commonly used by most processors to make cooked and peeled meat have a tendency to take away natural flavor.

Harvest Methods


Otter Trawl

Product Forms


  • Cooked & Peeled
  • Head-on
  • Tails (P&D)
  • Tails (PUD)
  • Whole


  • Cooked & Peeled
  • Head-on
  • Tails (P&D)
  • Tails (PUD)
  • Whole
Fresh Seasonal Availability
Culinary Composition





Health & Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 100 Grams
Amount per serving
  • Calories
  • Total Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein

Cooking Methods

Advisory Concern


Northern shrimp is also referred to as pink shrimp. It has a slender and smooth body with a thin, hard exoskeleton that can be a light red-pink to a deep red color. They have four feeding legs and six walking legs with fins on their tail to swim and quickly escape danger. Much smaller than warm-water shrimp, males can grow up to 4.5 in (12 cm) while females can grow up to 6.5 in (16.5 cm). They usually average about half this length. In some areas, northern shrimp are known to live for over eight years, but most do not live past age five.

Northern shrimp first mature as males for two years, sexually mature at 2.5 years, and eventually transition into females at 3.5 years. They begin to spawn in mid- to late summer of their third year in offshore deep mud basins, and eggs hatch inshore during the following spring within days of the annual spring phytoplankton bloom, when food is most abundant. Juveniles will live in coastal waters for a year before migrating to offshore waters where they mature as males. Northern shrimps’ reproductive success, growth, and development are affected by temperature, but they are reproductively active throughout their lives.

Northern shrimp are essential to a healthy marine food chain. They are opportunistic omnivores, acting as both predator and scavenger. They feed on phytoplankton, zooplankton, and bottom-dwelling invertebrates and are prey to important finfish species such as cod, redfish, silver hake, and white hake.

Species Habitat

Northern shrimp can be found in both the North Atlantic and the North Pacific. In the North Atlantic, they range from Spitsbergen, Norway and Greenland to the North Sea and west from the Davis Strait south to the Gulf of Maine. In the North Pacific, they can be found from the Bering Sea and Southeast Siberia down to Japan, and from the Aleutian Islands to Oregon.

Northern shrimp live in bottom clay and mud habitats between a depth of 66-4,364 ft (20-1,330 m). They can be found in polar regions with temperatures ranging from 28°F to 54°F (-2°C to 12°C), with a preferred temperature of 39°F (4°C).

Science & Management:
  • Wild

    On the US West Coast, most shrimp stocks, including northern shrimp, are generally not managed using traditional quantitative stock assessments due to their complex life histories and growth strategies. Modified stock assessments using catch and effort data are used to set catch limits in Alaska and Washington’s shrimp fisheries. Biological reference points and fishing mortality are typically undefined and stock status is unknown. However, comprehensive in-season monitoring combined with measures to limit effort and protect spawning stock suggest that shrimp stocks along the West Coast are fished sustainably. Bycatch data are unavailable for northern shrimp trawl fisheries as it is unobserved, and most bycatch is discarded at sea.

    In Canada, scientists from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) conduct annual ecosystem-based assessments of the eastern Scotian Shelf stock, providing advice to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) fisheries managers and the industry on stock health, future prospects, and Total Allowable Catch (TAC). This assessment and advice are reviewed annually by the Regional Advisory Process. Fishing and natural mortality are also calculated using surveys and mathematical modeling. Harvesting strategies are considered conservative and precautionary, so the eastern Scotian Shelf stock has grown or remained at healthy levels throughout the fishery’s history.

    In British Columbia, the northern shrimp trawl fishery occurs in 34 out of 36 of the Shrimp Management Areas (SMAs). Area-swept trawl surveys index biomass and monitor abundance trends. Shrimp stocks have high annual variation, and long-term stock sizes normally tend to vary. SMAs close to fishing when it is designated as a Critical zone following surveys.

    Experiments for northern shrimp aquaculture are currently being undertaken in England.


    Second to the brown shrimp, the northern shrimp is commercially one of the most important type of caridean shrimp in the North Atlantic. In 2016, the global capture production for northern shrimp totaled 241,016 tons with a peak in 2004 at 446,909 tons. There are major fisheries in several regions:

    • Canada (Nova Scotia, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bay of Fundy, Davis Strait)
    • US (Gulf of Maine, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Washington)
    • Greenland
    • Iceland
    • Norwegian coast
    • Russia (Kamchatka Peninsula)

    Northern shrimp on the US West Coast are caught in Alaska and the Northeast Pacific using beam trawls. Although there are no reference points, fishing mortality has declined due to market conditions as opposed to declining stock status. A number of measures are used to manage the stock:

    • Limited entry fishery
    • Gear restrictions including minimum mesh and webbing sizes
    • Minimum sizes
    • Minimum count per pound
    • Guideline Harvest Ranges limits

    The US Atlantic Northern shrimp stock in particular has collapsed, and stock size has remained at unprecedented lows for years. There has been a fishing moratorium in place since 2014 and was extended in 2018 until 2021. The bulk of the harvest came from Maine. Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts cooperatively manage northern shrimp under the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Northern Shrimp. Abundance is primarily monitored by the joint State-Federal summer shrimp survey, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee provides annual stock assessments to fishery managers. The following limits make up the fishery management plan framework:

    • Annual catch limits
    • Seasonal closures when a percentage of the catch limit is projected to be caught
    • Limits on the amount harvested per fishing trip
    • Limits on the number of set traps during a season
    • Certain closed days out of the fishery to slow catch rates and prolong the season
    • Minimum trawl net mesh size to prevent undersized shrimp bycatch
    • Finfish excluder devices to reduce bycatch
    • Annual adjustments of management measures based on annual stock assessments and stakeholder input
    • Required use of a double-Nordmore grate or compound grate system to minimize catch of small male shrimp
    • Strong reporting requirements for catch and landings

    Recruitment depends on factors such as ocean temperatures and spawning biomass. Increasing temperatures create inhospitable environments for northern shrimp. An increase in predators may also contribute to its stock decline.

    In Canada, northern shrimp are caught using bottom trawls in British Columbia and with traps in Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia on a smaller scale. The DFO manages the pink shrimp and northern shrimp as one stock, under “pink shrimp.” In Nova Scotia, the stock is not currently overfished or subject to overfishing. TAC is revised annually based on stock size, environmental conditions, and biological indicators. Bycatch in the fishery is negligible due to the design of the traps. Any incidental catch, usually snow crabs who prey on northern shrimp, are caught, but are released into the ocean alive. The current management plan for this stock is precautionary and works to ensure proper monitoring and long-term sustainability, involving several stakeholders.


Impact on Stock

Northern shrimp is a species of coldwater shrimp that grows quickly and has a relatively short lifespan, but they are susceptible to temperature changes.

Northern shrimp is the largest single coldwater shrimp fishery, with stocks found in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Arctic oceans. This shrimp’s population can vary dramatically annually, making scientific assessment difficult. A northern shrimp assessment done in 2011 showed that stocks had declined from 2006 to just below the overfished threshold, but that could be due to natural fluctuation. Overall, abundance is considered to be at a medium level.

Habitat Impacts

Most northern shrimp are caught using otter trawls. Usually this type of fishing gear would cause long-lasting damage to seafloor bottom habitats, but the soft seafloor in northern shrimp fisheries tends to be fairly resilient. Some northern shrimp are caught using traps, which causes fewer disturbances to the seafloor.


Bycatch was once a problem in this fishery but has been greatly reduced since the introduction of a requirement that otter trawls have Nordmore gates, devices that help prevent accidental bycatch of groundfish such as cod. The most common bycatch is undersized shrimp, which remains a concern.

Management Effectiveness

A number of management measures are in place in the northern shrimp fishery, including ones to reduce bycatch and discards. Scientific assessments are done regularly in this fishery, and managers have closed the season early to prevent going over total allowable catch limits and avoid overfishing.

Origin Harvest Method Sustainability Ratings
Canada - Atlantic (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Canada - British Columbia Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Good Alternative
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Canada - Nova Scotia Pot/Trap
Seafood Watch- Best Choice
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Estonia - Northeast Arctic (MSC) Trawl
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Faroe Islands - Barents Sea (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Greenland (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Iceland (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
North Sea (Fladen Ground) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
North Sea (Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4 Think
Northeast Arctic - Barents Sea Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Norway - Barents Sea (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Norway - North Sea (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4 Think
Unassessed Origin Unassessed Fishing Methods
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Alaska Beam Trawls
Seafood Watch- Good Alternative
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - New England Trawl
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Name Country State/Province
Atlantic Red Crab Company United States Massachusetts
Barry Group, Inc. Canada Newfoundland and Labrador
Beaver Street Fisheries United States Florida
Clearwater Seafoods United States Virginia
DOM International Limited Canada Ontario
F/V Rimrack United States New Hampshire
Fortune Fish & Gourmet United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States Illinois
Intercity Packers Meat & Seafood Canada British Columbia
John Nagle Co. United States Massachusetts
Lusamerica Foods United States, United States, United States California
Maine Shellfish Company United States Maine
Maximum Seafood Canada Ontario
Ming Hong International, Inc. United States California
NOVA Fisheries / SunWave Processors United States Washington
Pacific Fresh Fish Ltd. Canada Saskatchewan
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Profish Ltd. United States District of Columbia
Seacore Seafood Canada Ontario
Seattle Fish Company United States Colorado
Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico United States New Mexico
SHS, LLC. United States Colorado
Stavis Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Tradex Foods Inc. Canada British Columbia
Whitecap International Seafood Exporters Canada Newfoundland and Labrador


  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO)
  • NOAA Fisheries
  • Seafood Watch Program
Last Updated: 6/25/2020