Category: Harvest and Catch Reports
Published: June 2013
Publication number: FPT 13-01
Author(s): Lorna Wargo, Dan Ayres, Yuk W. Cheng
Spot shrimp (also referred to as prawns or spot prawns) are the largest shrimp on the US West Coast. Their geographic range extends from Southern California to Alaska's Aleutian Islands, around to the Sea of Japan and the Korea Strait. Spot shrimp tend to inhabit rocky or hard bottoms that include glass-sponge reefs, coral beds, and the edges of marine canyons. Along the Washington coast, spot shrimp habitat is mostly in deep ocean canyons that are located from 20 to 40 miles offshore, and typically at depths from 70 to 100 fathoms.
Washington's coastal spot shrimp were not actively fished prior to 1992. As interest in the fishery grew, WDFW saw a need to begin to manage the fishery. An advisory board was appointed, comprehensive regulations were developed and in 1999 the Fish and Wildlife Commission authorized the fishery under the provisions of the Emerging Commercial Fisheries Act (ECFA). At that time a total of 15 permits were issued, five to trawl fishers and ten to pot fishers. In 2003, the fishery transitioned to a pot gear only fishery. During the ensuing years the number of permits dropped; by 2009 only 8 remained. With this reduction, usage patterns in the fishery stabilized and gear conflicts diminished. Also, during this period, management actions addressed significant biological concerns relative to harvest, habitat, and bycatch.
In 2010, WDFW staff and current holders of spot shrimp permits agreed that the Washington coastal spot shrimp fishery was no longer an "emerging" fishery; it had matured and there were no further significant benefits to it remaining under the ECFA. Action by the Washington Legislature passed SHB 1148 which converted the fishery to a separate limited entry license, specific to coastal spot shrimp. This action does not preclude future management action to address resource or fishery concerns that might arise. However, conversion of the spot shrimp permit to a limited entry license does allow for license transfers either by sale or inheritance.