PINRO conducted specialized trawl surveys to assess the stock level of northern shrimp in the Barents Sea Svalbard area from 1982 to 2003. Since 2004, the stock has been assessed using the joined Russian-Norwegian ecosystem survey. During this 1982-2013 survey period, shrimp biomass has peaked at approximately 7–8 year intervals which were observed in 1983–84, 1991–92, 1998, 2006, and 2010 (Figure 4.3.36).
Ecosystem surveys results from 2011, 2012, and 2013 indicate that patterns of shrimp abundance/biomass in the Barents Sea have not varied dramatically (Figure 4.3.37). As in previous years, shrimp was distributed in 2013 extended practically over the entire Sea (excluding shallow areas in the Pechora Sea, the Persey Bank, off Bear Island, and Hopen Bank). Major shrimp populations are located in northern coastal waters of Svalbard and central north-eastern Barents Sea.
During 2011–2013, indices of northern shrimp stock abundance were estimated by area using ecosystem survey data. Estimated annual values were 377, 424, and 386 thousand tonnes, respectively, and were higher than the long-term average (Figure 4.3.36). This suggests that the Barents Sea population of Pandalus borealis remains in a stable condition.
Commercial fisheries for northern shrimp in the Barents Sea and waters near Svalbard have been conducted regularly since 1950s; Russia joined in 1976. Although the stock is believed to be fished at a sustainable level, total catch decreased steadily after 2001, and has stabilized at around 20–30 thousand tonnes/year since 2006. Estimated catch of northern shrimp in the Barents Sea and waters off Svalbard was 30 thousand tonnes in 2011, 26 thousand tonnes in 2012, and 19 thousand tonnes in 2013.
For economic reasons, catch levels for northern shrimp in the Russian zone also decreased annually after 2000, and had dropped to 1 thousand tonnes by 2005. Catch levels have not increased in subsequent years, and had practically stopped during 2009–2012. In 2013, one Russian vessel resumed shrimp fishing in the Barents Sea, and harvested approximately 1 ton in the Novaya Zemlya shallows.
No international catch quotas are enforced for northern shrimp fisheries in the Barents Sea. Fishery regulations in the Sea and near Svalbard coast require using trawls with mesh size of at least 35mm, and use of selective grids (with 19mm spacing between bars ) is compulsory. In addition, bycatch should not exceed 800 ind. cod and/or haddock, 1000 ind. red fish, and 300 ind. black halibut per 1 ton of shrimp.