June 8th is World Oceans Day and how appropriate that this year, with the delay of BC Spot Prawn season, we are able to celebrate with this west coast sustainable species. BC Spot Prawn season is usually in the month of May, but this year (2020), Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans has delayed the season by a month, in light of marketing uncertainties during the global pandemic. That is, with the closure of restaurants, tourism and other markets for the spot prawns, the fishers would be left without their usual outlets for spot prawn sales.
As seen in the news stories about the long line ups at Steveston’s Fisherman’s Wharf, the delayed spot prawn season has started strong! Some local restaurants that are now re-opening are featuring the spot prawn in their seasonal menus.
So what makes this species sustainable? Considered a “GREEN” fishery in the Ocean Wise program, the wild BC spot prawn fishery is regulated with limited licenses and limited traps per license, limitations on single hauls, monitoring programs, and harvest log requirements. The fishery is restricted to trap gear only, which minimizes by-catch. The fishery also closes when the number of spawning prawns increases. For more information on the sustainability of this fishery, visit this Wild BC Spot Prawn website.
This year, there are two spot prawn fishers selling at Steveston’s public wharf. Follow them on social media (@steveston.spot.prawns for FV Just Travlin, and @prawnsonthespot for FV Jet Lag) to find out when they expect to arrive at the dock; they are also very good at announcing when they are sold out! For those who may be unable to visit Steveston, there are also some pick up locations at False Creek, or you can order through Skipper Otto, a Community Supported Fishery if you are a member (this year’s membership enrollment has ended, but keep an eye out for sign-up season at the end of the year).
While you enjoy wild BC Spot Prawn season this June, think about the sustainability of other west coast species to inform your consumer choices.