Spot prawns fishing is a multimillion-dollar industry in B.C. (Black Press Media file photo)

Spot prawn season is open in B.C., and this year it’s staying local

The usual export plan is off because of COVID-19, so fishermen are hoping to sell fresh, local

Vancouverites stood in long lines to buy ocean fresh spot prawns last week, but on Vancouver Island, fishermen aren’t holding their breath for a great season.

Last spring, the harvest landed an estimated $48.8 million — within the top five most valuable fisheries in B.C. — but this year export markets just aren’t biting.

“A good portion is exported to Japan, and they aren’t buying this year because they still have inventory from last year. And then there’s COVID-19, so restaurants all over the world are not open,” said seafood buyer Arlo Kueber, part-owner of Scarlet Point Seafoods in Port Hardy.

The entire provincial coast is home to the tasty prawns, but they favour deep inlets such as the Quatsino Sound in northwest Vancouver Island, and the Broughton Archipelago between Vancouver Island and the coastal mainland.

The season was delayed at the request of the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association in the hope that given time, the local markets would reopen. Fresh local sales may be the lead revenue generator for fishermen this year. Commercial prawn fishing opened June 4, when normally it would start in May.

Many fishermen are doing private sales this year, to compensate for a slow export market, Kueber said. Scarlet Point expects to be selling fresh ocean prawns for $20 a tub by next week, once the boats return.

All prawns start out as male, and become female by the end of their life cycle. Laurie Convey is in charge of prawn fisheries management for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and her job is to make sure the prawn harvest is sustainable.

In this regard, “the males don’t count,” she said. When Fisheries and Oceans observers board boats to take samples of the catch, they’re counting females. They have to make sure there are enough mature females left at the end of the commercial season to repopulate.

Finally, when it’s time to eat, Convey loves them boiled — just until they float — and doused in wasabi mayo.

fishing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people who traveled along Keith Wilson Road

Classic cars make a stop in Chilliwack during Brogan’s Ride Against Cancer

With the weather cooperating, more classics than expected hit the road for the fundraiser

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Cat owners in Chilliwack celebrate National Kitten Day

Chilliwack Progress readers share photos of their favourite felines on National Kitten Day

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read