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Cold-water prawns

The North Atlantic cold-water prawn is remarkable for its bright pink colour both before and after cooking.

The North Atlantic cold-water prawn, Pandalus borealis, is known across the world for its delicate, sweet flavour with a firm and juicy texture to the meat. The cold-water prawn is a great source of protein and low in fat, making it a healthy and nutritious delicacy.

Cold-water prawns in the sea

The cold-water prawn is found throughout the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, from Canada to Norway. The cold surroundings make the prawn grow slowly, which provides ideal conditions to fully develop the complex flavour and texture.

The prawn has an almost translucent red shell, with long, red antennaes at the top of the head. The colour may be caused by the prawn’s feed, or it may be developing eggs for spawning. The slightly darker colour of the head does not affect flavour or quality.

Cold water prawn habitat

The cold water prawn lives throughout the Arctic Sea.

The cold-water prawn has a lifespan of up to nine years. The prawn is usually caught when it is around six years old and eight to ten centimetres long, compared to farmed warm-water species that are usually fully grown when they are six months old.


Cold-water prawns can be taken all year round, but fishing is limited by the ice conditions, especially in Ilulissat when the Disko Bay freezes. The prawns are caught both inshore and offshore.

Inshore prawn fisheries

Inshore, the cold-water prawns are caught by local fishermen in small vessels. They fish quite close to the shore, but at great depths, to reach the prawns’ seabed habitat. The prawns are caught in a trawl net and hauled on board. Then the prawns are stored on ice for a maximum of four days, or until the fishermen have filled their on-board storage facilities. The catch is landed at one of Royal Greenland's factories, where the prawns’ size and appearance are rated prior to processing.

Cold-water prawns, inshore

See how the finest prawns are caught in the Disko Bay area in western Greenland.


In Greenland, all catches of inshore prawns are cooked and peeled in the land-based factories.

Offshore prawn fisheries

Offshore fishing for cold-water prawns is also carried out using trawl, but performed by much larger vessels. Royal Greenland operates two seagoing trawlers, Akamalik and Qaqqatsiaq, which fish solely for prawns. The trawl is lowered several hundred metres onto the seabed, where the prawns are trapped in the net and hauled on board for processing.

Cold-water prawns, offshore

See how the finest shell-on prawns are caught by our seagoing factory trawlers, far from shore in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.


Royal Greenland's trawls are fitted with sorting grids and escape panels that lead any larger fish that have entered the trawl opening back into the sea. Royal Greenland also supports the research and development of less invasive trawling methods with less impact on the seabed and reduced fuel consumption for the fishing vessels.

Read more about Royal Greenland's sustainable fisheries strategies here

The fisheries in Western Greenland, Canada and Norway are all certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council and evaluated to be well-managed and supervised via mandatory catch logs.

Read more about MSC certification here.


Most of the prawns are processed on board, before being sent directly to our customers. At sea, the trawlers Akamalik, Qaqqatsiaq and Nataarnaq process the prawns immediately after landing their catch. The prawns are sorted, cooked and quick-frozen within a few hours of leaving the water.

Cooked and frozen at sea

Prawns from both inshore and offshore fisheries are landed at the land-based factories. Here, the cold-water prawns are quality-assessed and size-graded, before entering the production line. The prawns are then cooked and peeled before they are quick frozen. From the factories, the processed prawns are either shipped directly to customers around the world, or to our other factories for advanced processing and packaging. 

Some of our prawns pass through our processing facilities in Germany, where they are repacked or brined.

See also