Spot Prawn by Trap

Salmon — British Columbia

Fish harvesters use traps attached to a bottom longline to catch spot prawns and are allowed to keep incidental catches of octopus. The traps are set from 200 to 300 feet (55 to 90 metres) deep along the ocean’s rocky bottom. The traps attract spot prawns with bait and capture them live. Harvesters check their traps regularly to haul in their catch. This fishing method has little impact on the seafloor and traps minimal bycatch or unwanted fish. 

Prawn Trap

Prawn Trap

Prawn traps consist of conical-shaped wire frame covered with nylon netting. The traps capture prawns live by attracting them through an entrance to the centre of the trap where the bait is located. Once inside, larger prawns are unable to escape while smaller prawns, crabs and fish escape through a hatch.

Prawn Trap

Fish harvesters are limited to 300 traps per licence and can set six longlines at a time. The longlines are anchored to the ocean floor with buoys attached to each end floating on the surface. Fishermen haul their traps using a hydraulic winch. In British Columbia, there are 252 commercial fishing licences in the spot prawn trap fishery. Vessels range from 13 to 66 feet (4 to 21 metres).

Conservation Measures

The spot prawn trap fishery is managed by effort control, which involves limits to the number of traps and fishing days. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:

  • limitation on the number of licences;
  • trap per licence limitations;
  • harvest log requirements;
  • restrictions on the mesh size and volume of traps;
  • minimum harvest size requirements for prawns;
  • required trap escapement modifications;
  • vessel length restrictions;
  • single haul per day limitations;
  • implementation of a monitoring program;
  • collection of management fees by licence holders;
  • and fishery closures implemented when the number of spawners falls below a predefined level.
Quality and Handling

During the prawn-fishing season, some fishermen will deliver their daily catch live to the market. The prawns are chilled in seawater in holding tanks aboard fishing vessels.  If you buy live prawns, immediately put them in a cooler or on ice and prepare them within a few hours. Prawns have an enzyme that turns the tail meat mushy if kept too long. Prawns frozen at sea typically have their head removed with only the tail and shell remaining. They are frozen in saltwater and can last up to six months in a residential freezer and up to 12 months in a commercial freezer.


Spot Prawn Food Info