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Greenlandic prawn optimism – but a world decline


On world basis, the Coldwater prawn (Pandalus borealis) quotas have seen a general decline over the past years and despite some good news from the biological surveys that a.o. the Greenlandic prawn stock is on the rise, the overall picture is that the catch level of 2018 will not significantly exceed the low of 2017. In the market demand remains high and increasing, so the difficulties to fulfill all demands remain a challenge for 2018.


A rise in Greenlandic supply

The good news is that the West Greenlandic biomass of prawns is seeing a positive development, and is increasing. Based on risk analysis coming from a quantitative model, and on qualitative evaluation of biomass and stock-composition indices the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and NAFO (Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization) conclude that the biomass is on the rise. Their thorough analysis results in the advice that the quota can sustainably rise up to 17% from 90.000 tons and up to 105.000 tons (Source:

However due to the joint fisheries commitment to a stable quota development and the decision made in the Management plan for the West Greenlandic Prawn fishery, that the maximum rise in quota year on year should not exceed 12,5%, it is decided that the TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for 2018 will be 101.250 tons (Source:  

Royal Greenland along with all other actors in the Greenlandic fishery supports the sustainable development of the fishery. As an extra initiative, Royal Greenland is putting an effort towards fishing for larger size prawns to fulfill the needs of our customers and further sustain the growth of young prawns. Moreover, Royal Greenland has invested heavily in exploring new fishing areas north of the traditional fishing areas in West Greenland. These areas are only ice-free a few months a year, and the travel distance from landing harbors is long, but based on the first trials it seems that these never fished areas hold significant prawn stocks. Broadening the fishing area will take some of the pressure off the stocks on West Greenland and support a healthy growth.


Canadian uncertainty

The Canadian quota, where some areas saw a cut of up to 62% in 2017, is expected to remain low also in 2018. Expectations are that the Canadian prawn stock will have to undergo a similar convalescence period, as has been the case for the Greenlandic prawn biomass where fishery now again is on the rise after several years of reduction. The prawn biomass is carefully monitored and the first biological advice for the area Gulf of St. Lawrence has just been made official by DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans). The recommendation here is a reduction of 40% for the coming period. Biological advice for the areas 0-6 will come at a later stage, expectation is also some reduction for the southernmost areas. Based on the biological advice the Canadian government will set the quotas before the fishery starts.

Prawn demand

Demand for both shell-on prawns as well as cooked and peeled prawns remain high. The traditional markets in Europe and USA shows stable demand for medium to XL size prawns, despite some price volatility, while the demand from Asian markets have seen a significant growth in demand on all sizes.

It is our recommendation that buyers consider their prawn size mix and explore if the range could include more sizes. E.g. a large prawn for more exclusive dishes such as prawn cocktails and starter dishes while the more convenient sandwich or salad prawn in a small size where the spread is better and the dish looks more filled with prawns at the same grammage.

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