Disclaimer: This is an interactive, draft mock-up that was created to inform the development of the California Fisheries Portal. This is not an active website and does not represent the final draft of the California Fisheries Portal. This mock-up was developed based on the first stakeholder focus group (2018) and serves as an interactive discussion draft for the stakeholder webinar on March 22, 2019.

Pink (Ocean) Shrimp Enhanced Status Report

Table of Contents

5. Future Management Needs and Directions

5.1 Identification of Information Gaps

The primary information gaps for the Pink Shrimp fishery are a lack of reference points that directly relate to indicators of overfishing or an overfished state, and targets or timeframes for rebuilding should the fishery be deemed overfished. The ODFW has implemented an FMP for Pink Shrimp including a Harvest Control Rule (HCR) based on empirical indicators, targets, and limits (ODFW 2018b). The Department is working to determine if a similar HCR should be implemented in California, and if triggers for those indicators should be modified.

No stock assessment model or biomass-based reference points have been developed for the Oregon fishery due to the absence of an established stock-recruitment relationship. Instead, stock status is assessed using empirical indicators, including the CPUE and the size/sex/age composition of the catch (ODFW 2018b). The Oregon HCR combines environmental and biological indicators of strong Pink Shrimp recruitment with early season (June) catch rate to determine the appropriate season length and triggers for season closure (ODFW 2014c). In addition, they have developed a recruitment model to predict the following year’s age-one class based on sea level height, which was found to be correlated with recruitment, and the number of age-zero shrimp in the fall catch. This model is used to predict the magnitude of age-one recruitment the following year.

Due to environmental variation, the recruitment predictions by the environmental model, while suggestive of stock trends, are insufficient to understand the true stock biomass during the following season. As a result, catch rates in the early season serve as a secondary indicator. If the catch rate falls below the target average catch per trip of 12,500 lb during the month of June the fishing season will end early on 15 October (rather than 01 November) and start later on 15 April (rather than 31 March). This extended seasonal closure provides increased protection for egg-bearing females, and may allow for higher recruitment in the following year.

A second limit reference point is triggered if sea levels are high during the larval year, suggesting low age-one recruitment via the environmental model, and the average June catch per trip falls below 10,000 lb in the following year. This indicates a year class failure and requires the fishery to be closed in mid-July to protect egg-bearing females and promote high over-winter survival rates. The following season opens on 15 April.

Within each fishing season, data on catch, effort, CPUE, age, size and sex composition, year-class strength, and geographic distribution of catch are collected. The information from these data are compared and evaluated against both historical data and the Indicators of Biological Concern (IBC) that were developed as part the draft federal FMP (Abramson et al. 1981). The IBCs listed are as follows:

  1. Long-term increases in count-per-lb—An increase in the count-per-lb would suggest a decrease in the mean age or size of shrimp being landed. The current 160 shrimp per lb threshold functions as a size limit to prevent the excessive take of juvenile shrimp. It is not clear what constitutes long-term, and a time frame would need to be specified.
  2. Long-term decrease in average age of females or increase in primary females—As protandric hermaphrodites, Pink Shrimp are born male but shift to female at about a year and a half. However, Pink Shrimp will shift earlier in response to population densities in order to retain sex ratios. A decrease in the average female age might indicate that fishing is removing too many age-two and age-three shrimp from the population.
  3. Long-term decrease in catches with equal or increased effort—This would manifest itself as a decrease in the CPUE. However, it is important to determine the best unit of effort, and to track changes in the standardized CPUE, which is assumed to be an indicator of biomass, rather than the raw CPUE. Standardization is necessary to account for variations in the efficiency of the fleet, both over time and within fishing seasons. For example, all shrimp boats in California pulled a single rig of one net and two doors prior to the 1974 season, when vessels towing a double rig from outriggers (one net on each side of the boat) entered the fishery. The double-rigged vessels are approximately 1.6 times more effective than single-rigged vessels, and CPUE estimates must be standardized to account for both single- and double-rigged vessels. Shrimp trawl fishing effort in Oregon is estimated annually from logbook data and then standardized to single-rig equivalent hours.
  4. Long-term decrease in productive shrimp grounds—This indicator tracks the spatial extent of beds with commercial densities. If a long-term contraction in the area where commercial landings are harvested was detected, this could indicate the serial depletion of the resource, as has been detected during low production years.
  5. Indication of two year-class failures over a 3 yr period—This would suggest that recruitment had failed in two successive years. Given that the majority of the Pink Shrimp in California only live for four seasons, this would indicate a severe decrease in the spawning biomass of the stock.

The primary types of information that would be necessary to enact a similar type of plan in California, along with their priority to management, are summarized in Table 5-1.

Table 5-1. Informational needs for Pink Shrimp and their priority for management.

5.2 Research and Monitoring

5.2.1 Potential Strategies to Fill Information Gaps

Port sampling of landings provides an excellent opportunity to collect information on the count-per-lb, sex ratio, and age distribution of the catch. Department staff have renewed efforts to maintain a database of current at-sea log data and to input backlogged information. Staff have also initiated biological sampling efforts in collaboration with processors to monitor shrimp sex, age, and reproductive status in the 2018 fishing season.

Data on a number of environmental conditions are already tracked. These data will be used to perform a correlation analysis similar to that conducted by Hannah (2010) to determine if Pink Shrimp recruitment in northern California exhibits the same environmental relationships as the stock in Oregon. Until a sufficient time series of these data are available, Department staff will utilize catch per trip data on landing receipts to produce a CPUE in place of more detailed log data.

5.2.2 Opportunities for Collaborative Fisheries Research

Biological sampling of Pink Shrimp caught in California waters was initiated in 2018. Data on shrimp size, sex, and reproductive condition will be shared with Oregon and Washington biologists to assess stock-wide patterns. Collaborative monitoring can be used to improve forecasts of future catches, as well as potential changes in correlations between stock biology and environmental conditions that may occur with changing climate.

Pink Shrimp trawl vessels can travel widely between fishing grounds and landing ports across states and many vessels are permitted to land in more than one state. Approximately equal amounts of Pink Shrimp are harvested from federal waters off California and landed into Oregon ports as into California ports. Department and ODFW biologists currently share information from logbooks to track these cross-border landings. Improved data sharing on a more frequent basis could help both states to better understand interactions between effort, capacity, and stock dynamics.

The three states are also collaborating on a grant-funded effort to purchase LED lights for all permitted vessels for use during the 2019 fishing season along with information for permittees on best practices. Results including rates of use, LED light function, and resulting changes in catch of both the target species and bycatch should be shared among the states.

Further research is needed on the habitat impacts of Pink Shrimp trawling, particularly if re-opening the PSTG is to be considered. Methods for assessing habitat impacts could include cameras on trawl gear, remotely operated vehicle camera surveys, drop cameras, and grab samples across gradients of trawl effort. Partnerships among fishermen, the Department, academics and conservation organizations could produce a more efficient and effective research program.

5.3 Opportunities for Future Management Changes

This section is intended to provide information on changes to the management of the fishery that may be appropriate, but does not represent a formal commitment by the Department to address those recommendations. ESRs are one of several tools designed to assist the Department in prioritizing efforts and the need for management changes in each fishery will be assessed in light of the current management system, risk posed to the stock and ecosystem, needs of other fisheries, existing and emerging priorities, as well as the availability of capacity and resources.

Management of the Target Stock

A full risk analysis of this fishery has not yet been conducted. However, the available information suggests that the fishery is not in immediate danger of overfishing or being overfished at current exploitation levels. Pink Shrimp are short-lived and resilient to fishing, with a strong ability to rebuild quickly from low population levels when environmental conditions improve.

While the current management system has been effective in limiting overfishing of Pink Shrimp in the past 15 yr, this system is designed to be more reactive than proactive. The adoption of clear management objectives and a target and limit system based on both catch and environmental indicators would be a more proactive, adaptive, and precautionary approach to fisheries management. This system should clearly specify the indicators that should be monitored (and on what time frame), any targets or limits, and what management actions are required when those thresholds are passed. This includes conditions for closure and re-openings of the fishery.

One of the benefits of this approach is that it would account for the inherent environmental variation in the system. Pink Shrimp have been shown to have recruitment failures and then recover within a single year. Because of this, two indicators (one environmental and one catch-based) would be required to trigger a significant closure of the fishery. Another benefit of this plan is that the limit reference points chosen would avoid being overly reactive. Finally, this approach would have minimal economic impacts. In years with low abundance, effort tends to decline late in the season because catch rates are too low to be economically feasible. As a result, closing the season one to two weeks early is unlikely to result in a large reduction in revenues.  Effective enforcement of the count per pound rule could reinforce the effects of use of an environmental and a catch indicator to control effort when necessary to ensure future recruitment.  Early season harvest of small shrimp both removes them from the population before their opportunity to spawn and prevents future higher economic gain on larger shrimp. While this rule is already in place, improvement to the regulatory language could make the rule more enforceable.     

By adopting the target and limit-based management system the California Pink Shrimp fishery would be closer to attaining MSC certification, which would result in higher prices or demand for Pink Shrimp. However, there is also the likelihood of increased costs associated with increased data collection and a more comprehensive management system.


It is especially important to minimize the bycatch of sensitive species. While shrimp vessels have had no interactions with threatened or endangered marine species of birds or mammals, Oregon and California vessels catch Eulachon (Al-Humaidhi et al. 2012), which was listed as a threatened species in 2010. The factors causing recent declines in abundance of Eulachon are not well understood, however, climate change, predator-prey interactions, changes in the timing of peak river flows due to dams and water diversions, and mortality from the Pink Shrimp trawl fishery may play a role (NWFSC 2010). No estimates of the marine population size are available, and there is extremely limited monitoring data for river runs of Eulachon, making it difficult to understand how much impact the Pink Shrimp trawl fishery has had on the species.

The low mortality rate estimates are in part due to the fact that the shrimp fishery occupies a much smaller spatial scale than the Eulachon population, and this is unlikely to have as much influence on the Eulachon population size as variation in the ocean environment or the abundance and distribution of major predator populations like Pacific Hake. However, effort levels in the Pink Shrimp fishery have been reduced by 50% since their peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and Eulachon and other smelt species have historically represented a sizable component of the fishery bycatch (NWFSC 2010; Hannah and Jones 2007). This suggests that the fishery may have had a larger impact in the past, and that if effort were to increase substantially again the impact would increase.

A recent study evaluated trawl system modifications for reducing bycatch of Eulachon below levels already achieved via the mandatory use of BRDs. An experimental footrope, modified by removing the central one-third of the trawl ground line, reduced Eulachon bycatch by 33.9%. It also reduced bycatch of Slender Sole (Lyopsetta exilis), other small flatfishes, and juvenile Darkblotched Rockfish by 80% or more without significantly reducing the efficiency of the gear with respect to the target species (Hannah et al. 2011). Recent research by the ODFW indicated that the installation of a series of inexpensive green LED lights on the fishing lines attached to nets reduced Eulachon catch by 90.5% and juvenile rockfish catch by 78%, with negligible impacts on shrimp attainment.

This research suggests that the bycatch of sensitive species might be avoided by easy and cost-effective modifications to the fishing gear (ODFW 2014d). Shrimpers in Oregon voluntarily embraced the use of LED lights in the second-half of the 2014 season and the state is moving forward with legally requiring their use. In general, this appears to be an effective, low-cost solution to the problem of Eulachon bycatch that California may consider implementing.

Figure 5-1. Eulachon in trawls a) without and b) with LED lights in Pink Shrimp landings (Photo Credit: NOAA 2014).


Restricted Access

The fishery in the southern region is open access, with no cap on the number of permits that can be issued (CDFG 2008). The number of permits purchased in the south was reduced to 29 permits in 2017.  If the number of permits sold were to increase in the southern region it may be necessary to cap the total number of permits available to shrimp vessels. This is unlikely given the lower and more variable amounts of Pink Shrimp in the south as well as the lack of processors in port.

Access is currently restricted in the northern region. Current regulations set a capacity goal for this fishery of 75 vessel permits and a requirement that the Department review capacity every 3 yr. Recent data indicates that less than 50% of the available permits were actively fished as of September 2014, but efficiency (catch per trip) has increased substantially in recent years. There is currently strong interest in purchasing Pink Shrimp permits and few are available. The Department intends to remove this capacity goal from regulation and maintain the permit number at this time given the increase in fishing power, among other considerations. Future management improvements should consider comprehensive revision of the limited entry permit program and establishing rules for capacity adjustment.

Stakeholder Communication

In the recent application for MSC certification, it was found that the Department’s score was deficient in the category of stakeholder communication. There are a number of opportunities for improved communication between the management team and the fleet, including surveys, meetings, and season summaries or other newsletters. The Department initiated efforts towards this end with a fleet meeting in Eureka in March 2017 and discussion of Pink Shrimp capacity at the November 2017 meeting of the Commission’s Marine Resource Committee.

5.4 Climate Readiness

There are indications that climate change could significantly alter recruitment patterns and distribution of Pink Shrimp over time (Hannah 2011). It is possible that warming waters will drive Pink Shrimp populations further north, which may limit access to the resource. Pink Shrimp recruitment success is considered to be environmentally driven and there is evidence that environmental variability has been increasing since 1980 (Shanks and Roegner 2007).

As noted in section 1.5, Pink Shrimp have a high tolerance for a range of salinities, but a fairly narrow optimal temperature range between 8-11˚C. Fluctuations in temperature from year to year may impact the survival, metamorphosis and growth of larvae (Rothlisberg 1979). In addition, the bottom temperature may influence the fecundity of shrimp (Hannah 2011). Recruitment of young-of-the-year has been negatively correlated with El Niño Southern Oscillation cycles. Coastal upwelling, which can vary from year to year, may influence the location of shrimp beds (Hannah 2011). The timing of spring transition, marked by increased offshore winds, increased upwelling, and decreased sea level height, has been linked to strong recruitment. The mechanism for this correlation may be related to cool, nutrient-rich waters promoting recruit survival. However, it is thought that very strong upwelling, and associated very low sea levels, transport larvae offshore, reducing recruitment (Hannah 2011).

Pink Shrimp off the coast of California have experienced higher interannual variability than stocks farther north over the last few decades (Hannah 2011), and this may increase in the future. This possibility underscores the need to maintain a consistent fishery monitoring and sampling program for the Pink Shrimp fishery going forward as well as the value of the potential new management approaches described above. Additional research is needed to understand how anticipated climate changes are likely to impact the stock.

Version: The Pink Shrimp Enhanced Status Report was updated in print and online in 2019.

Download: Pink Shrimp Enhanced Status Report (2019) (pdf)

Contact Us: To contact CDFW regarding the Pink Shrimp fishery, please email invert@wildlife.ca.gov or call (831) 649-2870.

Citation: California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2019. Pink (Ocean) Shrimp, Pandalus jordani, Enhanced Status Report.

Contributor(s): Julia Coates (2019)

Pink (Ocean) Shrimp Enhanced Status Report (2019)

Table of Contents
  1. The Species
    1. Natural History
      1. Species Description
      2. Range, Distribution, and Movement
      3. Reproduction, Fecundity, and Spawning Season
      4. Natural Mortality
      5. Individual Growth
      6. Size and Age at Maturity
    2. Population Status and Dynamics
      1. Abundance Estimates
      2. Range, Distribution, and Movement
      3. Age Structure of the Population
    3. Habitat
    4. Ecosystem Role
      1. Associated Species
      2. Predator-prey Interactions
    5. Effects of Changing Oceanic Conditions
  2. The Fishery
    1. Location of the Fishery
    2. Fishing Effort
      1. Number of Vessels and Participants Over Time
      2. Type, Amount, and Selectivity of Gear
    3. Landings in the Recreational and Commercial Sectors
      1. Recreational
      2. Commercial
    4. Social and Economic Factors Related to the Fishery
  3. Management
    1. Past and Current Management
      1. Overview and Rationale for the Current Management Framework
        1. Criteria to Identify When Fisheries Are Overfished or Subject to Overfishing, and Measures to Rebuild
        2. Past and Current Stakeholder Involvement
      2. Target Species
        1. Limitations on Fishing for Target Species
          1. Catch
          2. Effort
          3. Gear
          4. Time
          5. Sex
          6. Size
          7. Area
          8. Marine Protected Areas
        2. Description of and Rationale for Any Restricted Access Approach
      3. Bycatch
        1. Amount and Type of Bycatch (Including Discards)
        2. Assessment of Sustainability and Measures to Reduce Unacceptable Levels of Bycatch
          Discard Mortality
          Impact on Fisheries that Target Bycatch Species
          Bycatch of Overfished, Threatened, or Endangered Species
          Measures to Reduce Bycatch
      4. Habitat
        1. Description of Threats
        2. Measures to Minimize Any Adverse Effects on Habitat Caused by Fishing
    2. Requirements for Person or Vessel Permits and Reasonable Fees
  4. Monitoring and Essential Fishery Information
    1. Description of Relevant Essential Fishery Information
      Biological Information
      Fishery-dependent Indicators
      Environmental Indicators
    2. Past and Ongoing Monitoring of the Fishery
      1. Fishery-dependent Data Collection
        Monitoring of Bycatch Rates
      2. Fishery-independent Data Collection
  5. Future Management Needs and Directions
    1. Identification of Information Gaps
    2. Research and Monitoring
      1. Potential Strategies to Fill Information Gaps
      2. Opportunities for Collaborative Fisheries Research
    3. Opportunities for Future
      Management of the Target Stock
      Restricted Access
      Stakeholder Communication
    4. Climate Readiness
List of Acronyms
ABC: Allowable Biological Catch
BRD: Bycatch Reduction Device
CCR: California Code of Regulations
CDFG: California Department of Fish and Game
CDFW: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
CPUE: Catch Per Unit Effort
EFH: Essential Fish Habitat
EIS: Environmental Impact Statement
ESA: Endangered Species Act
ESR: Enhanced Status Report
FCG: Fish and Game Code
FMP: Fishery Management Plan
HCR: Harvest Control Rule
IBC: Indicators of Biological Concern
LED: Light Emitting Diode
MLMA: Marine Life Management Act
MPA: Marine Protected Area
MSC: Marine Stewardship Council
NMFS: National Marine Fisheries Service
ODFW: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
PFMC: Pacific Fishery Management Council
PSTG: Pink Shrimp Trawl Grounds
RCA: Rockfish Conservation Area
WCGOP: West Coast Groundfish Observer Program
List of Figures

Figure 1-1. Range of Pink Shrimp.

Figure 1-2. Three size (age) classes of Pink Shrimp.

Figure 1-3. Annual age composition (percent) of Pink Shrimp landed in Oregon, 1975-2017.

Figure 1-4. Pink Shrimp habitat.

Figure 2-1. Historical Pink Shrimp trawl locations in a) northern California and b) southern California.

Figure 2-2. Participation (active vessels) and landings (million lb) in the Pink Shrimp fishery, 1970-2017.

Figure 2-3. Diagrams of a) single-rigged vessel pulling one otter trawl, and b) double-rigged vessel pulling two otter trawls used on Pink Shrimp vessels.

Figure 2-4. Diagram of a rigid-grate BRD used in the Pink Shrimp fishery.

Figure 2-5. Pink Shrimp landings (million lb) and value (million dollars), 1970-2017.

Figure 2-6. Catch per trip of Pink Shrimp, 1970-2017.

Figure 2-7. Pink Shrimp on a trawl vessel deck.

Figure 2-8. Pink Shrimp percentage of total landings by port in 2017.

Figure 2-9. Pink Shrimp processing.

Figure 5-1. Eulachon in trawls a) without and b) with LED lights in Pink Shrimp landings.

List of Tables

Table 2-1. Poundage, ex-vessel value, and price per pound for Pink Shrimp, from 2000 to 2014 (most recent year of data).

Table 3-1. Observed catch of groundfish by Pink Shrimp trawlers in California, 2014.

Table 3-2. Observed catch of non-groundfish by Pink Shrimp trawlers in California, 2014.

Table 3-3. Pink Shrimp bycatch of the California fleet vs. ABC of rebuilding or recently rebuilt species.

Table 3-4. List of fees for Pink Shrimp trawl vessel permits.

Table 5-1. Informational needs for Pink Shrimp and their priority for management.

Literature Cited

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Jones SA, Hannah RW, Golden JT. 1996. A Survey of Trawl Gear Employed in the Fishery for Ocean Shrimp. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Information Reports Number 96-6. Accessed 01 May 2018. https://nrimp.dfw.state.or.us/CRL/Reports/Info/96-6.pdf

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). 2014a. Annual Pink Shrimp review. Accessed 01 May 2018.  http://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/publications/docs/shrimp_newsletter2014.pdf.

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