Archive for the ‘Commercial Fishing’ Category

Commercial Prawn Fishing Season 2010

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

This announcement is somewhat old news at this point, but for those who haven’t heard yet the commercial prawn fishery season for 2010 opened May 6th, 2010 at noon. The official notices for the South Coast and Fraser River and North Coast can be found in the links (note DFO requires you to login to look at these announcements). Note: these notices can and will be superseded by any following notices which can be found on the dept of fisheries website.

The season will last until the areas are surveyed and deemed unfit for future fishing. Which means that any area could close more or less at any time, but in general the season lasts until late June. Nows the time to get your prawn supply.

Laying Traps for BC Spot Prawns

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

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2009 Prawn Fishing Season Opens!

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Commercial fishing for BC Spot Prawns is open! As of May 7th 12:00 the commercial prawn fishing season for 2009 is opening. Both the North Coast and South Coast are open for commercial fishing until further notice. This is a great opportunity to head down to your local wharf and pick up some fresh prawns to make your BBQ’s delicious.

As always the official announcements of the beginning of the season can be found on the DFO website. But for those who are looking for the announcements there are PDF copies of the announcements here for the South Coast and the North Coast.

Sustainable Highlights from the Announcements

Single Hauling

In all areas, after opening day, all setting and hauling of prawn and shrimp traps will be permitted only between 0700 h (7:00 am) and 1900 h (7:00 pm) and hauling of traps will be permitted only once per day.

While the prawn traps are fairly good at making sure that only prawns are caught there is always a number of undersized prawns that will find their way into the prawn traps. One of the reasons to single haul is to give these prawns an opportunity to find their way out of the traps. If a trap is set in a place with a significant amount of prawns the prawn bait is generally all eaten before the trap is pulled back up, with no food in the trap the prawns make efforts to escape. Single hauling means that undersized prawns have the time that they need to be able to escape.

Spot Prawn Carapace Size Limits

The minimum size limit for prawns is 33 mm measured as carapace length. The minimum size for tailed prawns is 22 mm telson length.

The prawn carapace is measured from the rear of the prawn eye socket, to the end of the top rear end of the head portion of the shell. The carapace size limit makes it easy for fishers to quickly judge if a prawn is a legal size and only keep those prawns that meet the guidelines. Prawns are hermaphrodites so making sure that small prawns are not harvested before they have become females and spawned helps the spot prawn stocks remain strong from year to year.

Prawns Ready to Be Sorted

BC Spot Prawns Ready to Be Sorted

Prawn Sorting and Bycatch

Traps must be sorted and undersized prawns released as each trap comes on board.

One of the important jobs on any commercial prawn fishing vessel is to sort the prawns as they come on board. Spot prawns are sorted immediately when they come on board the vessel. This allows any bycatch that comes up with the prawns to be quickly returned to the water. And it also means that prawns that are too small to be harvested are returned to the ocean with a minimum possible amount of stress.

Berried Prawns

All berried prawns must be released from opening day May 07 and until June 0/09.

Berried Prawns are prawns that still have eggs. Prawns hold their eggs under their body and as the eggs are ready they fall off as the eggs mature. While each prawns is able to produce many offspring, returning berried prawns to the sea gives the prawn stocks in that area the best possible opportunity to maintain their population. That said, catching spot prawns after they have spawned is ideal because the prawns die once they have spawned.

BC Prawn Fishing Season

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Commercial Prawn Fishing Season in BC… May – July

Everyone loves fresh BC prawns, there is something special about knowing that the food that you are going to eat was just plucked from the ocean a few hours ago. The quality of fresh spot prawns is incredibly hard to beat. Unfortunately, the season for fishing prawns commercially only lasts May until July of each year. The season’s length is controlled by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) who regulate the fishery to maintain healthy stock levels.

Commercial BC Prawn Fishery Closed Area by Area

The DFO start the season after the majority of female prawns have spawned. Before and during the prawn season sampling technicians monitor and test the fishery to determine the ” Spawner Index”. This is a complex calculation of how many females or potential spawners are coming up from the depths in the traps. The object is to close the fishery, if the index is not high enough, to ensure there are enough spawning females the following winter to maintain the stocks. There is some flexibliity built into the management system so that DFO biologists can close relatively small areas if the stock is weak in that area, without closing the whole fishery. The commercial prawn industry has made sustainability a central feature and various rules have been put in place to that end. Such as, commercial prawn fishers are only allowed to work from 7am to 7pm and can only haul each trap once per day.

As a consequence, the prawn fishing season is variable. However, fresh BC spot prawns tend to be available from May until July each year.

Longer Season is coming

The industry is working on ways to extend the season, so that fresh and live product is locally available for more of the year while always keeping in mind that sustainability is most important. As a result, Spot Prawns have been cited in David Suzuki’s list of sustainable world sea products and are recognized as sustainable by and as an ecologically sound seafood choice. This is in contrast to competing products which are imported from south east Asia.

What to do When Fresh Prawns Aren’t Available – Try Frozen

But what if it isn’t May, June or July? What then. The only option that we have at the moment is to enjoy frozen spot prawns. Frozen prawns are sharp frozen at sea. The sharp freezing process involves keeping the prawns alive on board the vessel until they are ready to be frozen and then freezing them immediately after they are processed. Sharp frozen prawns offer the best possible alternative when fresh prawns are no longer available. In spite of being frozen, they can be quickly thawed and be ready to serve in a matter of minutes.