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December 01, 2011

December Fish of the Month: Oregon Pink Shrimp

Santa Claus is comin’ to town—what will be on his “nice” list this year? Mr. Claus and Shedd Aquarium support seafood that is abundant, well-managed and caught using ocean-friendly fishing gear. Shrimp is standard holiday fare, but the vast majority of these crustaceans arrive on our plates with significant sustainability challenges. December’s Fish of the Month, Oregon pink shrimp, is an exception and can be found on Shedd’s “best choice” list for sustainable seafood.

Shrimp are found in many marine environments around the world, living near the bottom of the ocean floor in what's called the benthic zone. These swimming crustaceans are most often caught with a bottom trawl, a heavy net that is rolled along the bottom of the ocean floor. As wide as a football field, bottom trawls pick up everything in their path, including sea turtles, ancient corals, finfish and marine mammals. This accidental catch is known as bycatch and shrimp trawlers have some of the worst bycatch track records. Researchers estimate that for every pound of imported shrimp netted, up to 15 pounds of bycatch is also caught. Those unwanted animals, whether game fish or endangered wildlife, are relegated to waste.

In the United States, many policymakers, boats owners and fishery managers have worked to reduce bycatch through new sustainable gear. Oregon pink shrimp are selectively caught using bycatch reduction gear on their bottom trawls, making bycatch less than 5 percent of the total pink shrimp catch. Compared to many other shrimp trawlers around the world, this change is worth celebrating! Oregon pink shrimp also live near sandy seafloors, making their habitats more resistant to destruction. The industry’s commitment to sustainability is paying off—Oregon pink shrimp is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, the world’s leading eco-certifier for sustainable seafood.

Oregon pink shrimp are smaller than many seafood lovers may be accustomed to, but their flavor makes up for their size! Their sweet taste is a delicious addition to salads, pastas, or soups. Find them at your local Whole Foods Market. Then try out our recipe for pink shrimp and orzo salad and become the top chef at your next holiday affair.

Pink Shrimp and Orzo Salad
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups orzo, cooked
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons lemon juice
20-25 MSC-certified Pink Oregon shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Mix dill, vinegar and mustard in a blender while slowly adding olive oil until emulsified
2. Once well-blended, season with salt and pepper
3. In separate bowl, combine the cooked orzo, cucumber and tomato
4. Add mustard-dill dressing to orzo mixture and stir to thoroughly coat in dressing
5. Brush pink shrimp with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper
6. Sauté shrimp in a sauté pan over medium-high heat for 1 to 3 minutes
7. Fold feta and cooked shrimp to orzo mixture and garnish with extra dill

Posted by Brook Havlik, conservation

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