Commercial traps are designed to reduce the harvest of undersized prawns and other by-catch.
The commercial prawn fishery is limited entry. There are 245 commercial spot prawn licences in BC that can be fished coast wide. During the season, each licence holder can fish a maximum of 300 traps and can only haul the gear once per day, between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm.
Up to two licences can be fished on one vessel, which is referred to as ‘stacking’. In this case a stacked vessel can fish a maximum of 500 traps, once per day.
Image from Steveston Spot Prawns
Commercial spot prawn traps must meet the proper criteria in order to maintain a sustainable fishery:
There is a minimum mesh size, which allows undersize prawns to escape.
Traps are specifically designed to prevent the trap from ghost fishing if it is lost on the ocean floor. The traps have rot cords which allows the trap to open freely after this cord disintegrates. The traps also have open tunnels.
Traps are regulated to a maximum volume
Baited traps are snapped onto a ground line and set along the ocean floor. Each vessel generally sets 50 traps per ground line. During the spot prawn season, traps are soaked for approximately 24 hours between hauls.
For vessels fishing one prawn licence, there is a maximum of six lines of gear (300 traps) to be hauled once per day. For ‘stacked’ vessels, there is a maximum of 10 lines (500 traps) to be hauled once per day.