Prince William Sound Management Area
PWS Shrimp Fishery
This popular pot fishery takes place from April 15 to September 15. This fishery is managed inseason by emergency order, meaning the fishery may not open or may close at any time, or the bag limits may be reduced at any time. Always check your local Fish and Game office before going shrimping.
Remember that all shellfish may be exposed to the phytoplankton that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning or PSP. For more information, see the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Recreational Shellfish Harvesting page.
The fishery is accessed primarily from Whittier and Valdez. Pots are easy to lose, so always take GPS readings of your sets, pay attention to currents, and use buoys that are large and brightly colored. Oily, strong smelling baits like herring, canned tuna in oil or canned cat food work well, and herring oil added to bait canisters always helps. Keep your bait in containers with holes drilled in them to make your bait last longer.
Pots tend to fish best when fished on underwater structure like pinnacles, rock slides, and drop-offs. Always use stout weighted line about 15% longer than the water depth to allow for currents and tides. Use weight in the pots to help them stay anchored.
Permits & Regulations
Prince William Sound Online Permits & Reporting
Sport Shrimp Permit:
Prince William Sound sport shrimp permits may be obtained online or from ADF&G offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Cordova or select businesses that sell sport fishing licenses in Seward, Valdez, and Whittier. All permit holders are required to submit their harvest report at the end of the season.
Subsistence Shrimp Permit:
Prince William Sound subsistence shrimp permits are not currently available online. Prince William Sound subsistence permits are available at ADF&G offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Cordova or select businesses that sell sport fishing licenses in Seward, Valdez, and Whittier. Contact the Southcentral Region Sport Fish Information Center (907-267-2218) to learn which specific vendor locations have subsistence permits. Prince William Sound subsistence shrimp pot fishers cannot fish in the Valdez non-subsistence area (PDF 422 kB). All permit holders are required to submit their harvest report at the end of the season.
End of the season reporting can be completed online or by returning your completed permit to the Fish and Game office in Anchorage (333 Raspberry Rd., Anchorage Alaska 99518). If mailed, we recommend placing your paper permit in an envelope prior to mailing. Our mailing address is:
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Attention: PWS Shrimp Permit
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99518-1599
Summary of Shrimp Fisheries Regulations*
|Summary of Regulations||Sport||Subsistence|
|Alaska Residency Required?||No||Yes|
|Fishing License Required?||Yes||No|
|Open Season?||April 15-September 15|
|Number of Pots Allowed?||In 2017, per Emergency Order, maximum 4 pots per person, with a maximum of 4 pots per vessel|
|Open Areas?||All salt waters of PWS||All salt waters of PWS (except "Valdez non-subsistence area")|
|Can Keep Finfish?||No|
|Can Keep Crab?||No|
|Can Keep Octopus?||Yes|
|Can Buy, Sell, or Trade Shrimp?||No|
|The Alaska Board of Fisheries has defined an area of Prince William Sound that is within the Valdez city limits as "non-subsistence" (described in 5 AAC 24.100 as of March 1993). See map:|
- Permit is required.
- Shrimp may be taken only from April 15 - September 15
- In 2017, per Emergency Order, no more than four pots per person, with no more than four pots per vessel may be used to take shrimp
- No bag, possession, or size limits for shrimp
- Bag, possession, and pot limits for shrimp allowed under sport fishing MAY NOT be added to bag, possession, and pot limits under subsistence fishing regulations
*Regulations may change through an emergency order at any time.
Summary of Shrimp Fishery Requirements
- Each keg or buoy must have the name of the fisher (first initial, last name) the address, and the name or AK number of the boat used to fish the pots. Phone numbers are also recommended.
- Two vertical sides of all shrimp pots must be entirely made of webbing big enough to allow a 7/8-inch round wooden dowel to go through without stretching or otherwise deforming the opening. The two vertical sides must touch each other. The webbing on these two sides cannot be covered by anything. The other two sides, as well as the top and bottom, can be composed of any material. The 7/8-inch size allows undersized and juvenile shrimp to escape.
- A pot with no definable sides, such as a round pot, must have 50% of its vertical surface area covered with the 7/8-inch webbing. The other 50% of the vertical sides, as well as the top and bottom, may be composed of any material.
- The 7/8-inch requirement does not apply to the tunnels.
All shrimp pots must have at least two adjacent vertical sides, or near-vertical sides, excluding tunnels, completely composed of uncovered net webbing or rigid mesh. Pots that do not have a definable side, including round pots, must have net webbing or rigid mesh panels covering a minimum of 50 percent of the vertical, or near-vertical, surface area of the pot. The net webbing or rigid mesh on all pots must be large enough to allow the unaided passage of a maximum 12-inch long, seven-eighths inch diameter, round wooden peg without deforming the opening, except for the selvage. Each shrimp pot should be outfitted with an escapement mechanism in case the pots are lost. Lost pots must be reported on permit submitted at the end of the season.
Shrimp Pot Escapement Mechanism
Rigid mesh pots:
Each pot must have an opening at least four (4) inches square with its lower edge within six (6) inches of and parallel to the bottom of the pot. This opening may be covered with a single panel secured with no more than four (4) single loops of 100% untreated cotton twine no larger than 30-thread. Each single loop of cotton twine may contain only one knot. Cotton twine fastenings may not be looped or laced along the edges of the opening. The panel must be attached in such a manner that when the cotton twine degrades the panel will drop away leaving the opening fully exposed.
Net mesh pots and pots with no definable sides:
Each pot must have an opening at least six (6) inches long on one sidewall. The opening must be within six (6) inches from the bottom of the pot. The opening must be parallel to the bottom of the pot. To lace the opening together, you must use 100% untreated cotton twine no larger than 30-thread. Knots may be used only at each end of the opening, not in the middle. The twine cannot be tied to or looped around the web bars.
If a pot is lost, the 100% cotton twine will degrade and allow shrimp to escape. Please report all lost pots on your permit.
Maps & Brochures
- 2017 Prince William Sound Shrimp Pot Fisheries (PDF 3,290 kB)
- Prince William Sound Shrimp - Life cycle, management, and fishing information (PDF 1,725 kB)
- Prince William Sound Shrimp Statistical Areas (PDF 422 kB)
- On the rebound: Prince William Sound Commercial Pot Shrimp Fishery
- Prince William Sound Shrimp Pot Fisheries, 2010-2014 (PDF 1,750 kB)