Canada Scotian Shelf Northern prawn Trawl — Marine Stewardship Council
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Canada Scotian Shelf Northern prawn Trawl

Canada northern prawn fishery

Last Updated: 5 May 2016 

MSC Status

Certified as sustainable on 5 August 2008. 
Re-certified as sustainable on 18 February 2014. 
The Scotian Shelf shrimp fishery has joined this certificate.  


Species: (Pandalus borealis)
Location: Atlantic Canadian Waters: Shrimp Fishing Areas 13, 14, 15
Fishing methods: Otter trawl
Vessels: The inland fishery consists of 395 multiple species enterprises in the range of 50-65 feet, though some inland vessels are smaller, and larger vessels are permitted with recent regulatory changes.
Number of fisheries: 1

MSC Assessment Status

For the assessment details, please refer to the assessment downloads section.  For further information, contact the Conformity Assessment Body.

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Do you source fish from this fishery?

Show your customers how the fish is caught – download and display this case study from our Net Benefits report.
Download Fishers' stories - Net Benefits 2009 - Canada northern prawn (PDF, 200kb)

More about Canada northern prawn

This species is usually found in areas with soft, muddy sediment where temperatures range from 1-6°C and depths range from 150-600 metres. The northern prawn is a hermaphrodite, maturing as a male at age 2, then mating for 2-3 years before changing sex and spending the rest of its lifespan as a female. The prawn spawn in the autumn and the females carry the eggs until April/May when they hatch and the pelagic larvae are released. During the day time the prawn feed on or near the bottom. At night, the prawns especially the males migrate vertically to feed on zooplankton. The northern prawn are heavily predated on by several ground fish species and harp seals.

More about the fishing methods

The wide distribution of prawn fishing occurs because prawn are abundant over a vast area from southern Nova Scotia to Baffin Island. Prawn trawlers work the muddy bottoms using otter trawls with a minimum mesh size of 40 mm, and fitted with a Nordmore separator grate. Prawn pass through the grate, but ground fish with swim bladders are directed upwards towards an exit triangle in the upper panel. This grate is mandatory in all the fishing areas. Fishers fit either bobbins or rubber discs to the groundrope, which is linked to the leading lower edge of the net by vertical toggle chains. The latter enable the net to ‘fly’ clear of the bottom so that flatfish disturbed by the groundrope can pass below the net entrance. This does not seem to affect the catchability of the net for prawn, which seem to be less closely associated with the seafloor.

Fishery tonnage

68,000 tonnes

Commercial market 

The inshore fleet focuses on the shell-off cooked and peeled product, which is primarily processed on land. Predominant markets are in the US and Europe.

Actual eligibility date

1 November 2013

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