Winter is Egg Season! Protect egg-bearing female prawns. Expect and respect seasonal closures.

Shellfish: Points to Remember

  • The harvesting of abalone, an endangered species in British Columbia, is prohibited.


Shellfish harvesting

  • Shellfish includes all aquatic invertebrates including crabs, clams, mussels, scallops, oysters, cockles, sea urchins, prawns and shrimp. Squid, sea cucumbers, and octopus are also managed as shellfish in British Columbia.

  • Harvesting shellfish from clam or oyster aquaculture sites is prohibited without permission from the lease holder.

  • Special limits apply for shellfish in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

  • It is illegal to harvest shellfish from closed or contaminated areas.

  • Bivalve shellfish includes clams, oysters, mussels and cockles. It is very important before harvesting these species to ensure that there are no Red Tide and/or Sanitary Contamination closures in the area in which you are harvesting. These types of closures change VERY OFTEN and QUICKLY in season

Handling your catch

  • Incidental catch must be released alive, and in a manner that causes it the least harm to the place from which it was taken.

  • Crabs must be measured immediately and undersized crabs must be immediately released gently to the water. Throwing crabs into the water from elevated heights of wharves and docks is harmful to crab and a violation.

  • Bivalve shellfish that you harvest may be shucked or cooked while in the field (e.g., on a beach), however they must remain in a condition where they can be readily counted and identified until such time as they are consumed or arrive at your ordinary residence. Crabs must have their carapace (shell) attached so they can be readily counted, measured and identified until such time as they arrive at your ordinary residence.

  • For conservation purposes, fishers are asked to voluntarily release prawns carrying eggs under their tail.

  • Never hang your bivalve shellfish off docks or the side of a vessel when traveling, as the waters you may be in could be contaminated.

Maa-nulth Treaty Lands

In 2006, the governments of Canada and British Columbia signed an historic agreement with the Maa-nulth First Nations. In accordance with that agreement, some sites in Areas 23 and 26 are restricted to shellfish harvesting by Maa-nulth Treaty members only. Detailed maps are linked at

Sponge Reefs and Corals Advisory

Sponge reef communities in British Columbia are ‘living fossils’. With their communities dating back approximately 9,000 years, individual sponges can survive for up to 450 years. It is recommended that fishers avoid fishing trap gear for crab, prawn, shrimp and octopus in areas where sensitive habitats for sponge and coral are found. To help protect sponge or coral communities please move to another location when you recover your trap gear and find remnants of sponge or coral attached.

  • To protect cloud sponge reefs in Saanich Inlet, fishers are requested to avoid fishing trap gear in waters less than 40 m deep at Henders on Point, Willis Point, Christmas Point, McCurdy Point; at the mooring buoy northwest of Senanus Island; at Repulse Rock; at the point sout h of Misery Bay; and adjacent to the Bamberton cement plant.
  • In Area 25, a sponge reef and coral forest is located at Tahsis Narrows. Fishers should avoid setting trap gear or anchoring in the vicinity of Mozino Point in waters less than 80 m in depth.
  • In Area 29 there are a number of isolated sponge reefs. One is approximately 12 km offshore of Sturgeon Bank at: 49º09.5’N 123º23.0’W at 160 to 220 m depth.
  • Sponge reefs are also found in Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound and Howe Sound, usually in waters from 140 to 240 m in depth