Shrimp

Shrimp

Shrimp

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Pink shrimp (Oregon)
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT PINK SHRIMP FROM OREGON

This coldwater shrimp is found from California to Alaska and changes sex from male to female after its first year of life.

Commercial Sources

Pink shrimp are caught in California, Oregon and Washington, with Oregon being the largest single source.

Capture Methods

Pink shrimp come from marine fisheries, not farms. They are caught with trawl nets over muddy bottoms.

+-Spot prawn (Canada)
Best
Low

Commercial Sources

Spot shrimp are found in the North Pacific Ocean. In North America, they range from Alaska to southern California, while in Asia they are distributed from the Sea of Japan to Korea Strait.

The main source of spot shrimp is the United States.

Capture Methods

Spot shrimp come from marine fisheries, not shrimp farms. They are primarily caught with pots and traps. Additional types of fishing gear include bottom trawls.

+-Northern shrimp (U.S., Canada)
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT NORTHERN SHRIMP

The Northern shrimp takes its name from its home, the cold boreal waters of the North Atlantic. This shrimp is hermaphroditic, spawning in its third year as a male and becoming a mature female the next when it moves inshore to shed eggs.

Commercial Sources

Northern shrimp are found throughout the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Arctic Oceans. In the Atlantic, they occur from Greenland to Massachusetts. In the Pacific, they are distributed from the Bering Sea to Japan.

The main sources of Northern shrimp are Canada, Greenland, Norway and Iceland. Northern shrimp sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Canada, Greenland and the United States.

Note: Water temperature is an important factor in the distribution of Northern shrimp.

Capture Methods

Northern shrimp come from marine fisheries, not shrimp farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include pots and traps.

+-White shrimp
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT WHITE SHRIMP

The white shrimp is a key commercial species that inhabits the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic, along with pink and brown shrimp, which it closely resembles.

Commercial Sources

White shrimp are found in the western North Atlantic, from New Jersey to Campeche in Mexico. They are especially abundant in the Gulf of Mexico.

The main source of white shrimp is the United States. ,Shrimp has firm, mild, sweet-tasting flesh in tail and body. In general, cold-water shrimp are smaller and more succulent (they grow more slowly). Shrimp shells will change color when cooked.

Capture Methods

White shrimp come from marine fisheries, not shrimp farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include butterfly nets, beam trawls and bag nets.

+-Spot prawns (U.S.)
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT SPOT PRAWNS

The California spot prawn (a misnomer as it is really a shrimp) sports four bright white spots, hence its name. To spawn, it metamorphoses in mid-life from male to female. This shrimp is abundant and well managed with low bycatch because it is caught with individual traps, not nets.

Commercial Sources

Spot shrimp are found in the North Pacific Ocean. In North America, they range from Alaska to southern California, while in Asia they are distributed from the Sea of Japan to Korea Strait.

The main source of spot shrimp is the United States.

Capture Methods

Spot shrimp come from marine fisheries, not shrimp farms. They are primarily caught with pots and traps. Additional types of fishing gear include bottom trawls.

+-U.S. farmed shrimp
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT U.S. FARMED SHRIMP

The whiteleg shrimp is a fast-growing, short-lived species that is widely farmed. Native to the eastern Pacific, this white-shelled animal is similar in size and shape to Gulf shrimp.

Commercial Sources

Whiteleg Shrimp are native to the eastern Pacific, from Sonora in Mexico to northern Peru. The main sources of whiteleg shrimp are Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil. Whiteleg shrimp sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Mexico and Ecuador. A small amount of whiteleg shrimp is now farmed in the U.S. (primarily in Texas).

Capture Methods

Farmed shrimp are raised in ponds.

+-U.S. wild shrimp
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT U.S. WILD SHRIMP

The brown shrimp, the white shrimp and the pink or Gulf pink shrimp are key commercial species in the southern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. All three closely resemble one another.

+-Brown shrimp
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT BROWN SHRIMP

The brown shrimp is a key commercial species in the southern Atlantic, occurring from coastal New Jersey waters down to the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean Ocean. It closely resembles pink and white shrimp.

Commercial Sources

Brown shrimp are found in the western North Atlantic, from Massachusetts to Campeche in Mexico. They are the most abundant in the waters off Texas.

The main source of brown shrimp is the United States.

Capture Methods

Brown shrimp come from marine fisheries, not shrimp farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include butterfly nets, beam trawls and bag nets.

+-Shrimp and prawns (imported)
Worst
Low

More about imported Shrimp and Prawns

Most shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported from countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia, where environmental regulations are often lax or not enforced.

Wild shrimp fisheries abroad have large amounts of bycatch, including endangered sea turtles.

Shrimp farms abroad have destroyed mangrove forests and other sensitive coastal areas.

+-Giant tiger prawn
Worst
Low

MORE ABOUT GIANT TIGER PRAWN

Also known as the black tiger shrimp, the shrimp is easily recognizable by the dark stripes on its shell. Of all shrimp, these are among the most widely distributed and marketed shrimp in the world. Most black tigers on the market are farmed in Asia, where rapid growth of shrimp farms has resulted in the loss of coastal wetlands and other environmental problems. Tiger shrimp can grow as long as 13 inches (33 cm) long.

Commercial Sources

Giant tiger prawns are native to the Indian and western Pacific Ocean. They occur from the east coast of Africa to Japan and western Australia. They have been introduced into North America and Europe.

The main sources of giant tiger prawns are Thailand, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Giant tiger prawns sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Thailand, India and Indonesia.

Capture Methods

Giant tiger prawns come from marine fisheries as well as shrimp farms. Wild shrimp are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Farmed shrimp are raised in ponds.

+-Blue shrimp
Worst
Low

MORE ABOUT BLUE SHRIMP

Somewhat misnamed, the blue shrimp has whitish flesh, but its shell is bluish-green. Blue shrimp is depleted in the Gulf of California. Fishing methods to catch this species result in high levels of bycatch.

Commercial Sources

Blue shrimp are native to the eastern Pacific, from Mexico to Peru.

The main source of blue shrimp is Ecuador. Blue shrimp sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Ecuador, Honduras and Panama.

Capture Methods

Blue shrimp come from both marine fisheries and shrimp farms. Wild shrimp are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include gillnets. Farmed shrimp are raised in ponds.

+-Chinese white shrimp
Worst
Low

MORE ABOUT CHINESE WHITE SHRIMP

The Chinese white shrimp dwells in the mid-Pacific Ocean, where it is heavily fished. Fishing methods for this species result in high levels of bycatch. It is also farmed. This shrimp grows up to 7 inches (18 cm).

Commercial Sources

Chinese white shrimp are native to the eastern North Pacific, off the coasts of China and western coast of Korea.

The main source of Chinese white shrimp is China.

Capture Methods

Chinese white shrimp come from marine fisheries as well as shrimp farms. Wild shrimp are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Farmed shrimp are raised in ponds.

+-Pink shrimp
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT PINK SHRIMP

The pink or Gulf pink shrimp is a key commercial species in the southern Atlantic. The pink closely resembles two other important species, the brown shrimp and the white shrimp.

Commercial Sources

Pink shrimp are found in the western Atlantic, from Maryland to Quintana Roo in Mexico.

The main sources of pink shrimp are the United States and Cuba. Pink shrimp sold in the U.S. market are primarily from the United States and Mexico.

Capture Methods

Pink shrimp come from marine fisheries, not shrimp farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include beam trawls and butterfly nets.

+-Whiteleg shrimp
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT WHITELEG SHRIMP

The whiteleg shrimp is a fast-growing, short-lived species that is widely farmed. Native to the eastern Pacific, this white-shelled animal is similar in size and shape to Gulf shrimp.

Commercial Sources

Whiteleg Shrimp are native to the eastern Pacific, from Sonora in Mexico to northern Peru. The main sources of whiteleg shrimp are Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil. Whiteleg shrimp sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Mexico and Ecuador. A small amount of whiteleg shrimp is now farmed in the U.S. (primarily in Texas).

Capture Methods

Whiteleg shrimp come from marine fisheries and shrimp farms. Wild shrimp are caught with bottom trawls. Farmed shrimp are raised in ponds.

+-Giant freshwater prawn
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT GIANT FRESHWATER PRAWN

The giant freshwater prawn has a longer and narrower body and legs than its saltwater-dwelling cousins. Like salmon and some eels, the prawn moves from estuaries to freshwater to spawn.

Commercial Sources

Giant freshwater prawns are native to the fresh and brackish waters across South and Southeast Asia, parts of Oceania, and the Western Pacific Islands.

The main sources of giant freshwater prawns are China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand. Prawns sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Bangladesh and China.

Note: The term "prawn" has no special scientific meaning. Giant freshwater prawns are similar to crayfish, but their arms are long with fine claws. ,Prawn has firm, mild, sweet-tasting flesh in tail and body. Shells will change color when cooked.

Capture Methods

Giant freshwater prawns come from fish farms. They are primarily raised in ponds.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
Northern shrimp (U.S., Canada) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Pink shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Pink shrimp (Oregon) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
White shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Shrimp and prawns (imported) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Giant freshwater prawn Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Giant tiger prawn Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Spot prawn (Canada) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Spot prawns (U.S.) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
U.S. farmed shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
U.S. wild shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Blue shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Brown shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Chinese white shrimp Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Whiteleg shrimp Mercury 4+ 4 4+ 4+
Eco details: 
  • Although Best Choices, U.S. farmed shrimp, spot prawns from Canada and Oregon pink shrimp (bite-size ""cocktail"" shrimp) are a small fraction of the shrimp sold in the U.S. market.
  • Why? Most shrimp (90 percent) eaten in the US. is imported from Southeast Asia and Latin America, where environmental regulations are often lax or not enforced.
  • The rest on the market (10 percent) comes from the Southeast U.S. (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean), where fisheries and farms are held to stricter environmental standards.
  • OK Choices are northern shrimp and U.S. wild shrimp.