Spot prawns are the largest commercially harvested shrimp in British Columbia and Alaska. Females can be bigger than 9 inches (23 cm). They have a distinctive reddish brown colour and white spots on their tail and striped legs. They live in rocky seafloor habitat and are hermaphrodites: after two years the males change gender becoming females.
Turning bright pink when cooked, spot prawns are prized for their distinctive sweet flavour and firm texture. They are considered nature’s “fast food’: cooking only takes one to two minutes or you can eat them raw, a popular dish in Japan.
Spot prawns usually live for about four years, starting their lives as males and maturing at one year of age. They grow quickly in their first two years, and then transform into females in their final year of life. Once in the female form, energy previously used for growth is now directed to reproduction. Females carry between 2,000 and 4,000 eggs for about five months. Their larvae hatch in March and April about 70 to 90 metres below surface. In summer, the larvae settle in shallower waters. As they age, they move back to deeper adult habitat, preferring to live in rocky crevices and under boulders.
This fishery uses traps attached to a bottom longline to catch spot prawns. 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.