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 montereybayaquarium.org and seachoice.org 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.