Shellfish: Traps and Rings

Marking, Buoys and Buoy Lines

  • All traps you use for crab, shrimp and prawn fishing must be marked with a floating tag or buoy that has your name on it. This includes traps tied to a boat or dock or fished from shore.
  • Only one name can appear on the trap. It must be legibly printed in a colour that’s easy to see and must be at least 7.5 cm high. Consider including a phone number in case your trap is lost (this may soon be a legal requirement).
  • You’re not allowed to use trap gear that has another person’s name on it when fishing for crab, shrimp, prawn or octopus.
  • All single traps must be marked with a buoy. If two crab traps are attached to one ground line, you are allowed to mark the ground line with only one buoy.
  • Buoys must be highly visible. They must be big enough for the tides and current in your fishing area so that they don’t submerge. Household plastic jugs, bottles and Styrofoam chunks are not recommended because they’re hard to see in the water and difficult to print your identification on. They also tend to deteriorate and sink.
  • Make sure your buoy line doesn’t float and become tangled in boaters’ props. Either use sinking line or, if you use floating line, attach a weight to keep the extra line under the water at all tide levels (without sinking the buoy).
  • When sport fishing, you may not waste any fish that’s suitable for human consumption. You’re not allowed to use any finfish suitable for consumption as bait in trap fishing. However, you are allowed to use fish offal, herring, mackerel, northern anchovy and Pacific sardine.
  • Keep navigation channels clear of buoys and lines. Any fishing gear that interferes with safe navigation can be removed under the Navigation Protection Act.
  • You are allowed to use mechanical devices to recover your traps.
  • You are not allowed to use spears or chemicals to harvest octopus.

Crabs and Crab Gear

  • Dungeness crab must measure at least 165 mm.

  • Red Rock crab must measure at least 115 mm.

  • A crab is measured in a straight line through the widest part of the carapace, or shell.

  • When returning crabs to the water, release them gently. Throwing crabs from the heights of a dock or wharf, or from a moving vessel, can kill them.

  • Harvesters are advised to measure crabs using a calliper device.

  • Undersized crab must be returned to the water immediately.

  • The carapace must remain attached until consumed or until the crab arrives at your ordinary residence.

  • You may not possess female Dungeness or Red Rock crabs. All female Dungeness and Red Rock crabs must be immediately returned to the water in a manner that causes the least harm. The female’s abdomen has a wide “beehive” shape; the male’s has a narrow “lighthouse” shape.

  • Note: The possession limit for all crab species is 2x the daily limit.

  • All crab traps must have a section in the top or sidewall that has been secured by a single length of untreated cotton twine no greater than No. 120 (approximately 5 mm or 3/16 inch diameter). This twine is often referred to as rot cord. On deterioration this must produce a rectangular opening with a minimum size of 7 cm x 20 cm, or a square opening with a minimum size of 11 cm x 11 cm. This regulation is intended to ensure that if the trap is lost, the section secured by the cord will rot, allowing captive crabs to escape, and preventing the trap from continuing to fish. On traps with a rigid frame and a freely opening hinged lid the trap lid must be secured by a single length of untreated cotton twine no greater than No. 120 so that the trap lid will open freely when the rot cord is broken. No other fastenings may impede the hinged lid of the trap from opening.

  • It is illegal to use more than two rings, dip nets or traps or a combination of these to fish for crabs. It is illegal to use snares in catching or attempting to catch fish or crabs.

  • Crab may only be harvested by trap, ringnet, dipnet or hand picking.

  • It is illegal to use snares, rakes, spears or other pointed instruments to catch or attempt to catch crabs.
  • Updated information on types of gear not permitted while crab fishing: FN0308 2013-04-19

Shrimp and Prawn Gear

Photo of a prawn trap

  • Every Season Every Trap Counts!

  • The maximum number of shrimp and prawn traps that may be fished by any individual is four traps.
  • A maximum of four traps may be fished on a single bottom line (ground line).

  • If three or more traps are set together on a single ground line, then a floating tag or buoy is required at both ends of the ground line.

  • Only one fisher’s traps may be set on a single ground line.

  • Note: The Sport Fishing Advisory Board has recommended that a regulation comes into effect requiring rot cord on prawn traps. Until this becomes law, harvesters are encouraged to create an opening in the top or side wall of their trap(s) that can be sewn shut with a single strand of untreated cotton twine. The cotton twine should be no greater than No. 120 and the opening should be large enough so that if the trap(s) are lost, on deterioration it will produce an opening allowing captive prawns to escape.

  • When fishing for shrimp or prawns, consider releasing female prawns bearing eggs and release all non-targeted species quickly to the water

  • Prior to fishing, check for changes to shrimp and prawn management measures in Saanich Inlet, Stuart Channel, Alberni Inlet and other areas.

  • Seasonal closures and other in-season management measures may be introduced to protect adult females carrying eggs.

  • Be aware of trap gear entanglement risks in the vicinity of the UVIC Venus project in Pat Bay, Saanich Inlet. Visit notice.php