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Prawn, Northern, prawns

Pandalus borealis

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - North Sea (Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep)
Stock detail - IIIa and IVa
Certification -
Fish type - Shellfish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is a good sustainable fish to eat. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find similar fish to eat.

Sustainability overview

The stock is fished sustainably and the stock at the required level. Deep-sea species, e.g. Argentines, roundnose grenadier, rabbitfish and sharks are frequently caught in shrimp trawls in the deeper parts of the Skagerrak and the Norwegian Deep. Sorting grids have been introduced in the Skagerrak to reduce bycatch of non-target fish since February 2013. Grids are compulsorily fitted in nets in all other prawn fisheries in the North Atlantic, including in Norwegian, Canadian and US waters.


Pandalus borealis, the northern prawn, or cold-water prawn (also known as pink or deepwater shrimp in North America), are crustaceans belonging to the family Pandalidae. The species has a wide distribution throughout the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans (the Pacific form is generally regarded as a subspecies, Pandalus borealiseous). The species occurs as far south as the North Sea, Massachusetts, Oregon and Japan. Northern shrimp are hermaphroditic. They develop initially as males, then become female after around 3 years, and complete their lives as females. Life span is around 5 years, although possibly up to 8 years in northern latitudes. They spawn in autumn and females carry the eggs until April/May, when they hatch and the pelagic larvae are released. Total adult length is about 15 cm. This species inhabits areas of soft, muddy sediment with a depth range from 20-1300 m. Prawns migrate vertically at night to feed on zooplankton. Northern prawn are heavily predated on by fish and marine mammals.

Stock information

Stock area
North Sea (Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep)

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Stock information
The stock biomass has been above MSY Btrigger and fishing mortality below FMSY since the start of the assessment in 2013
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2016 should be no more than 21 500 tonnes. If this stock is not under the EU landing obligation in 2016 and discard rates do not change from the average (2012 to 2014), this implies landings of no more than 18 598 tonnes. ICES also advises that measures should be taken to address discarding through highgrading. Average discard rate of 13.5% in 2012-2014.


No specific management objectives are known to ICES.

Capture information

Northern shrimps are mainly caught by 35-45 mm single- and twin-trawl nets (minimum legal mesh size 35 mm). Demersal nets may be towed between 2 boats as in pair-trawling, or one boat may tow more than one net as in twin or multi-rig otter trawling. It is not unknown for some boats to tow up to 8 or 10 nets. A large number of vessels use sorting grids, to reduce bycatch, on a voluntary basis. When sorting grids are not used bycatch species, dominated by saithe and cod, may constitute up to 30% of the landed catch. Deep-sea species, e.g. Argentines, roundnose grenadier, rabbitfish and sharks are frequently caught in shrimp trawls in the deeper parts of the Skagerrak and the Norwegian Deep. Legislation requiring a species-selective grid has been implemented in the Skaggerak since February 2013.

Read more about capture methods

ICES Advice 2015, Book 6

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