The BC spot prawn fishery is collaboratively managed between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association. This co-management program includes an annual work plan of activities related to the commercial fishery that are to be accomplished by both parties and the annual financial contributions of each party.
The Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association has the highest level of commitment to the spot prawn resource. We have various measures in place to ensure stock conservation and maintain the resource for the future generation of licence holders.
Image from Steveston Spot Prawns
The fishery is restricted to trap gear, which minimizes the incidental catch of non-target species and impact on the ocean habitat. Mesh size restrictions and harvest size requirements minimize the capture of undersized prawns. Any prawns under the minimum size of 33 mm (1.3 inches), as measured from the eye socket to the end of the carapace, must be returned to the ocean live.
Fish harvesters are required to sort their catch as each trap comes on board and to release spawning female prawns (those carrying eggs) and undersized prawns immediately before the next trap is recovered. Any non-target species – such as other species of shrimp, small finfish, and crab – incidentally caught in the prawn fishery are also returned to the ocean live.
On top of these harvest requirements, the commercial season is based around the lifecycle of spot prawns. These seasonal closures are implemented based on sampling conducted onboard commercial vessels during the commercial fishery.
Once a fishing area is closed, it will remain closed to protect the spawning female prawns. These areas will remain closed to the end of the spawning period which is March 31 of the following year.