Atlantic coldwater shrimp harvests to settle at 160,000t by 2030

In his latest forecast for the shrimp catching sector Carsten Hvingel, of Norway’s Institute of Marine Research, predicted west Atlantic catches still have some way to fall. Speaking at the International Coldwater Prawn Forum in Reykjavik, he looked back to predictions he made in 2015, and noted that — for the major fisheries — the past two years have looked relatively like his “worst-case scenarios”, according to the news site undercurrentnews.com

At that time he estimated catches would fall below 200,000 metric tons in the west Atlantic — the key fisheries in which are Canada’s and West Greenland.

His latest estimate suggests these two fisheries still have a way to decline, and could stabilize at around 100,000t by 2030. He bases this on a 70% decline seen in the mid-2000s; for two reasons.

Firstly, shrimp catches in the east Atlantic seem to have finished their steep decline, seen between the late 1990s and late 2000s. From their peak, to the seeming stabilization, catches declined 70% (to around 50,000t now).

Secondly, as he has mentioned before, Hvingel noted shrimp stocks are declining as cod stocks rise; a “regime shift” from shellfish to groundfish. In the east Atlantic — where this shift is seemingly complete for the time being, shrimp stocks declined 70% before a balance was reached. Hence, he expects a similar picture in the west Atlantic fisheries.

So far, from peaks of over 300,000t in the late 2000s, catches in the west Atlantic fisheries have fallen some 43%, to 160,000-170,000t in 2017 (estimated 93,500t in Canada and almost 80,000t in West Greenland).

By 2030, Hvingel estimates, west Atlantic catches will have fallen another 85,000t, to just below 100,000t. Combined with the east Atlantic — which he thinks will remain relatively stable, or slightly increasing — this adds up to roughly 160,000t.

West Greenland has seen an uptick in its landings in recent years, and has seen the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization advise an increased quota again for 2018, at 105,000t.

However, given the strength of growth in cod stocks off Greenland, Hvingel remains sure that shrimp will continue to decline in the longer term.

Elsewhere he predicts Iceland and east Greenland’s fisheries will remain at the low levels they have reached of late (estimated 6,500t and 10,000t respectively in 2017), while the Barents Sea may see a slight increase, but remaining at very low levels in comparison with the west Atlantic fisheries.

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