The highly anticipated commercial Spot Prawn season typically lasts six to eight weeks. The season usually opens in early May and ends mid to late June.
The commercial spot prawn season opens in the Spring, no earlier than May 1, to allow for increased growth of the prawns before harvest. The season opens in the Spring because it is the new lifecycle for spot prawns. One and two-year-old male prawns as well as transitions are the most predominant during this time. Berried females must be released live and there are very few berried females at this time of the year.
For conservation purposes the number of females is monitored to determine fishery closures. Since prawn populations change rapidly and constantly over a short lifespan and they all are females in their final year, the number of females present in the population provides an important index of stock status.
When the number of potential females caught per trap reaches a predetermined threshold, the local area closes. As local areas progressively close Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) determines a point where the Commercial prawn fishery is closed for the season.
This seasonal management, which is compliant with the DFO Precautionary Approach framework, ensures prawn stock conservation and is one of the main factors why the BC spot prawn fishery is so sustainable. Late fall and winter is when most spawners become ‘berried’ (carry eggs).
The commercial prawn fishery does not occur during this time of the year thus protecting berried females.