Advice explainer: Northern shrimp in Skagerrak and Kattegat and northern North Sea in the Norwegian Deep

ICES released advice on fishing opportunities for Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) in the Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep (ICES divisions 3.a and 4.a East) for the period 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2025. Here, we take a look at some of the key points.
Published: 7 June 2024

​​​​​The advice, released on 7 June 2024, based on the EU/Norway long-term management strategy, recommends that catches should not exceed 4,557 tonnes.​​​

The Northern shrimp fishery in the Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep is a shared resource among Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, with a history dating back to 1970. Each country is allocated a portion of the total allowable catch (TAC) based on historical landings. The fishery is socially and economically important for the fishing sector who rely on it.

In 2022, ICES conducted a benchmark assessment on this Northern shrimp stock, which altered the perception of the stock's status. The new modelling approach better accounted for for the species' life history, where shrimp change from male to female as they grow older (known as the hermaphroditic relationship) and for uncertainty in natural mortality. This revision led to changes in reference points used for management. The 2024 assessment is largely consistent with the previous year's assessment.

It is important to note that Northern shrimp is a short-lived species, and a large part of the catch consists of immature individuals. In recent years, the stock has experienced periods of poor recruitment, leading to a situation where the spawning stock biomass is low and the advised total catches must be reduced to ensure the stock's sustainability.

Why has the advised total allowable catch (TAC) for Northern shrimp in the Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep been reduced for the 2024/2025 season, despite indications of an increasing spawning stock biomass?

The 11% reduction in the advised catch for the 2024/2025 season compared to the previous year, and the 25% reduction compared to the current season's TAC, is related to the historically low recruitment observed in 2022 and the downward trend in the biomass of shrimps aged 1–3 years, which make up the bulk of the catch. This reduction is necessary to ensure the short-term sustainability of the stock, by maintaining the stock above the biomass limit reference point (Blim), and  rebuilding towards the maximum sustainable yield biomass trigger (MSY Btrigger).

The fishing industry has expressed concerns about discrepancies between the assessment of a growing stock and the advice that resulted in TAC reductions. How does ICES address these concerns?

ICES acknowledges the concerns raised by the fishing industry regarding the perceived discrepancy between the growing spawning stock biomass and the reduced TAC advice. The new assessment model, introduced in the 2022 benchmark, better accounts for the unique life history of Northern shrimp, particularly the hermaphroditic relationship and uncertainty in natural mortality. While this has led to changes in the reference points used for management and an improved understanding of ​the stock's dynamics, it has also created new advisory and management challenges. ICES advice is in line with international policy requirements, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the stock. ICES remains committed to working with all stakeholders to improve the scientific assessment and management advice for this valuable resource.

What steps can be taken to improve the accuracy of stock assessments and management decisions for Northern shrimp in the Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep​?

To enhance the accuracy of stock assessments and management decisions, continued monitoring of the Northern shrimp stock is essential. Data collection from the fishery and from surveys, coupled with adaptive management will be essential to obtain a healthy population and support the fishing communities that depend on this valuable resource in both the short and long term. Collaborative efforts between scientists and fishers can provide valuable year-round information to improve assessments. By working together and incorporating the best available data, ICES and stakeholders can work towards maintaining a healthy Northern shrimp​​ population and supporting the fishing communities that depend on this resource in the longer term.


The latest advice is available to view and download from ICES library.​

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Image​ © 2004 by Tomasz Sienicki.​​​​ 

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Advice explainer: Northern shrimp in Skagerrak and Kattegat and northern North Sea in the Norwegian Deep

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