Oregon’s pink shrimp fishery, 1951

Pandalus jordani

Pandalus jordani

California played a pivotal role in the development of Oregon’s marine fisheries. Oregon’s pilchard fishery and the albacore tuna fishery were both influenced by California fishermen and their boats. And so was the development of the pink shrimp fishery.

I’ve been reading the Oregon Fish Commission’s Research Briefs. The December, 1952 issue has a paper by Alonzo T. Pruter and George Yost Harry, Jr. They report that fishing for pink shrimp began as early as 1869 in San Francisco Bay, and that shrimp were harvested commercially in Alaska, shrimpboats_ODFWBritish Columbia, and Puget Sound. But Washington and Oregon did not develop shrimp fisheries, although there were reports of catches by research vessels and by some otter-trawl fishermen. [1] But were shrimp available in commercial quantities between Point Conception and the Columbia River?

prd_shrimpDuring the fall of 1950 and the spring and summer of 1951, the California Department of Fish and Game conducted explorations off California. The results were positive and boats started delivering pink shrimp. The California department lent its trawl gear to the Oregon Fish Commission, and during the fall of 1951, research began. There were two objectives: to see if shrimp were available—but also to “obtain information concerning the virgin shrimp populations as they exist before being subjected to a possible commercial fishery.”

During the months of October, 1951, and March, April, and May, 1952, 80 exploratory shrimp drags were made between the Columbia and the Rogue River. “Pink shrimp were taken in sizeable quantities in most of the areas explored.”[2]

What strikes me about this account is the collaboration among the scientists, as well as a fisherman, Hugo Lillienthal, who volunteered his vessel, the Nel Ron Die, for the last two cruises off Coos Bay.  It took more research before fishermen started a pink shrimp fishery off Oregon, but it is one of the healthiest sectors of the commercial fishing economy.


[1] Alonzo T. Pruter and George Yost Harry, Jr., “Results of Preliminary Shrimp Explorations off the Oregon Coast,” Oregon Fish Commission,  Research Briefs, 4 (1), December, 1952,  12-24.

[2] P. 24.

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About finleyc

I'm a writer and a historian of science. I'm interested in the intersection of science and policy in the oceans, and especially around fishing.
This entry was posted in Albacore tuna, California sardines, Carmel Finley, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology, Maritime History, Ocean fishing, Oregon pilchards, Pacific Fishing History Project, World History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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