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Integrated fisheries management plan summary: Prawn and shrimp (Pandalus spp.) by trap - Pacific Region, 2022/2023

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The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) summary is to provide a brief overview of the information found in the full IFMP. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) staff, legislated co-management boards, First Nations and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource. The full IFMP is available on request.

This IFMP summary is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act. The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claims agreements, the provisions of the land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

General overview/introduction - IFMP Section 1

The Pacific Region’s fisheries for prawns and shrimp using traps take place along the BC coastline in rocky near-shore areas in depths of 40 to 100 m, and includes commercial, recreational and First Nations fisheries. Most of the catch (>60%) comes from the Strait of Georgia and inside of Vancouver Island. The target species is prawns (Spot Prawn, Pandalus platyceros), with a small incidental catch of other shrimp species and small commercial fisheries directed at Coonstripe Shrimp (P. danae) and Humpback Shrimp (P. hypsinotus).

The commercial prawn and shrimp by trap fishery began around 1914 in Howe Sound and reached prominence in the mid 1970s. The commercial fishery is a limited entry, competitive fishery with 245 licence eligibilities. Of these, 59 are designated communal commercial licences for First Nations participation in the commercial fishery. The commercial fishery is managed by seasonal closures, in-season area closures, gear limits, gear marking requirements, trap mesh size requirements, minimum size limits, non-retention of prawns with eggs, daily fishing time restrictions and a daily single haul limit. The commercial fishery opens no earlier than May 1 to allow for increased growth of the prawns prior to harvest, improving catch weight and value. Seasonal closures are implemented based on sampling conducted onboard commercial vessels during the commercial fishery. Once closed, areas remain closed to protect the remaining egg bearing females from commercial fishing mortality through to the end of the larval hatching period (end of March the following year). The commercial fishery generally closes coastwide by the end of June. The directed Humpback Shrimp and Coonstripe Shrimp fisheries take place in the fall to the end of December.

Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations located on the west coast of Vancouver Island - Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht (the Five Nations) – have an aboriginal right to fish for any species, with the exception of Geoduck, within their fishing territories and to sell that fish.

A British Columbia Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence is required for the recreational harvest of all species of fish, including shellfish. Crabs, prawns and shrimp, clams and oysters are the main species of shellfish harvested. The recreational prawn and shrimp fishery is an open entry fishery with a daily bag limit, two-day possession limit, gear limits and gear marking requirements. There is no size limit. The recreational fishery is open for most of the coast throughout the year. Local recreational closures may be implemented during the spawning period (January to March). Prawns with eggs cannot be retained.

First Nations’ harvest for food, social and ceremonial purposes may occur where authorized by an Aboriginal communal licence or, under treaty, a harvest document. Fifty-four communal licences and four harvest documents may be issued annually in the Pacific Region including harvest for a number of shellfish species. Food, social and ceremonial harvest is not currently limited by catch quantity, except in those Nations where the Council or fisheries Program has established their own catch limits for band members, or where allocated under treaty.

Seasonal closures have been managed since 1979 using an escapement-based model, referred to as the Spawner Index Model based on ensuring a minimum number of female spawners available at time of egg hatch, which normally occurs by the end of March.

Stock assessment and science - IFMP Section 2

Spot Prawn stocks are managed and assessed based on an escapement-based model (Section 1). Growth and mortality parameters for the model are obtained through semi-annual fishery independent surveys. Fishery independent index surveys are also conducted in the fall to monitor stock status prior to spawning. During the commercial fishing season, a sub-set of the commercial traps hauled are sampled by independent observers to monitor stock status relative to the in-season harvest reference points.

Annual landings generally showed an increasing trend from the development of the fishery up to 2009 (Section 4). Since 2009, annual catches have been variable. A large decrease in catch was observed in 2010 followed by a high annual catch in 2011. From 2012 to 2015, prawn landings remained relatively consistent ranging from approximately 1,648 t to 1,842 t. In 2016 and 2017, commercial landings declined to approximately 1,219 t and 1,178 t, respectively. From 2018 to 2020 the catches have been increasing from 1,657 in 2018 to 2,048 in 2020. There is no estimate available for 2021 (logbooks not available at time of publication). The primary indicator of stock status for 2022 will be the sample results obtained at the start of the 2022 commercial prawn season.

Indigenous knowledge - IFMP Section 3

In 2019, the Fisheries Act was amended to include provisions for where the Minister may, or shall consider Indigenous knowledge in making decisions pertaining to fisheries, fish and fish habitat, as well as provisions for the additional protection of that knowledge when shared in confidence. Work is underway at a National level to develop processes for how DFO receives Indigenous knowledge and applies it to inform decision making.

Economic profile of the fishery - IFMP Section 4

Please refer to the IFMP for references cited in this Section.

Commercial fishery

Historically, the commercial prawn and shrimp by trap fishery has been one of the most valuable fisheries in the Pacific Region with a landed value of $36 - $52 million between 2011-2014. This changed in 2016 when the estimated landed value of the fishery sharply dropped due to a drop in both landings and price. Prices seem to have rebounded in 2017 and 2018, with both measures showing year-over-year improvements. In 2020, the total landings reached its highest since 2011, but low market prices seem to have put downward pressure on the total landed value in 2020.

In 2019, the wholesale value of prawns processed in BC was about $63.5 million (2020$), which was about 7% higher than in 2018. However, it is possible that this figure includes prawns and shrimp that are imported for further processing and value added.

In 2020, direct prawn labour processing costs (i.e. wages paid to employees working in the prawn processing sector) were about $4.9 million (2020$). These estimates show the importance of spill over economic impacts that this fishery has on the BC economy as a whole. The same report also found that prawns landings and processing occur mainly on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland of BC.

Once almost totally reliant on the Japanese market, the prawn sector has diversified its market channels and now enjoys high profile in local, domestic, and other export markets. BC Spot Prawns have been recognized by the Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise program and as a “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Such recommendations create marketing opportunities and raise the profile of Spot Prawns in local, domestic, and growing export markets such as China and Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Recreational fishery

Recreational fishing is a leisure activity that also provides food for personal use. These activities provide benefits to the individual participants as well as contribute directly and indirectly to the economy through fishery related expenditures. This section focuses primarily on economic activity rather than the economic benefits to individual anglers or businesses.

Typically, BC’s tidal water recreational fishery has been the third largest recreational fishery in Canada in terms of expenditures Footnote 1 and major purchases. The 2015 expenditures attributable to recreational fishing in BC tidal waters are estimated at $601.7 (2020$), with $87.7M attributable to recreational fishing for shellfish. Most of the direct expenditures, major purchases, and package expenditures are attributable to salmon fishing, but interest in prawn is sizeable, with 9% of resident anglers indicating prawns as one of their top three preferred species (Fisheries & Oceans Canada, 2010).

First Nations

The Allocation Transfer Program (ATP) and Pacific Integrated Commercial Fishery Initiative (PICFI) have relinquished existing commercial licence eligibilities from fish harvesters on a voluntary basis and re-issued these to eligible First Nation organizations as communal commercial licences. As a result of these programs, 23% of commercial prawn and shrimp by trap licence eligibilities are held by First Nations for participation in the commercial fishery (above).

Access and allocation - IFMP Section 7

The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

The commercial fishery is limited entry, with seasonal and area closures, gear limits, minimum size limits, non-retention of prawns with eggs, daily fishing time restrictions, and a single haul limit.

The recreational fishery has a daily catch and possession limit for prawns and shrimp species combined. Gear limits, non-retention of prawns with eggs, and seasonal area closures apply.

To date, DFO has not specified gear or catch limits in communal licences for First Nations’ food, social and ceremonial harvest. Starting March 2016, DFO has requested details about how commercial vessels and gear are used for harvesting prawns for FSC purposes. These details are requested so that there can be a common understanding of the size, scope and timing of the fishery. Prawns and shrimp may be allocated under treaty, but were unallocated under the Maa-nulth, Tsawassen and Nisga’a Treaties. The Tla’amin fishery for domestic (FSC) purposes under the Tla’amin Final Agreement (Treaty) includes an FSC allocation for prawns.

Scientific licence requests received from scientific, educational, and public display institutions, including biological collecting firms, are considered. Policies with respect to scientific licences and use-of-fish apply.

Shared stewardship arrangements - IFMP Section 9

A collaborative agreement is established annually between DFO and the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association for delivery of co-management programs supportive of the commercial fishery. This Agreement includes an annual work plan of activities related to the commercial fishery that are to be accomplished by both parties and the annual financial contributions of each party.

Commercial vessel owners/licence eligibility holders are required to make arrangements with an industry service provider for the delivery of in-season information to DFO. The cost of this service is established by the service company and is negotiated by the Association on behalf of licence eligibility holders. The industry service provider for 2022 is J.O. Thomas and Associates, Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Management issues, objectives and measures - IFMP Sections 5, 6 and 8

# Management issue Objectives Management measure
1

Conservation and sustainability

Need for improved catch reporting in recreational and First Nations fisheries.

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems. DFO has finalized the national Fishery Monitoring Policy.
2

Commercial fishery

The Transportation Safety Board, in investigation of capsizings, expressed concern that DFO’s maximum vessel length policy puts constraints on vessel replacements and influenced fish harvesters’ decisions to make vessel alterations that may negatively impact on their vessel’s stability.

Vessel safety is an objective shared between DFO, Transport Canada, Transportation Safety Board, and WorkSafeBC.

Adopt an affirmative action profile in respect of vessel safety considerations in conjunction with other responsible agencies, Transport Canada, Transportation Safety Board and Worksafe BC.

Fishing Vessel Safety considerations developed with the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada are provided in Appendix 6.

DFO remains open to discussions raised by industry on changes to established vessel length restrictions.

3

Commercial fishery

In 2016, the USA published new regulations implementing import provisions pertaining to the reduction of marine mammal bycatch in foreign commercial fishing operations.

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Manage fisheries to provide opportunities for economic prosperity.

DFO will be working closely with the commercial fishing industry and other stakeholders to facilitate the process under the new regulatory requirements under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.
4

Recreational fishery

Efficiency and participation in recreational prawn harvesting has grown with improved technology, gear and bait.

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Provide sustainable recreational harvesting opportunities as part of integrated management plans consistent with DFO’s policies.

DFO implemented a new daily limit of 125 prawn and shrimp combined for April 1, 2020.
5

First Nations fishery

DFO has become concerned about the increasing use of commercial vessels and gear in the FSC fishery and the impact this will have on conservation and sustainability of the resource.

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Provide opportunities for First Nations to harvest fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, in a manner consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. vs. Sparrow and subsequent court decisions.

Since 2016, for those First Nations that have an interest in using commercial vessels or gear for harvesting prawns for FSC purposes, DFO is working together with the First Nation to request details about how this will occur. These details are requested so that there can be a common understanding of the size, scope and timing of the fishery.
6

First Nations fishery

Limited information on food, social, ceremonial harvests

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Provide opportunities for First Nations to harvest fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, in a manner consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. vs. Sparrow and subsequent court decisions.

To provide dependable, timely and accessible fishery information.

Catch monitoring programs are being developed in collaboration with some First Nations organizations and standards for all fishery monitoring and catch reporting programs are being developed. Prawns are a priority within the shellfish species to be included in these programs.

7

Compliance

DFO has become concerned about the increasing use of commercial vessels outside the commercial fishing season. The investigation of illegal sales of prawns is an important enforcement priority.

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Pursue opportunities to monitor and enforce these fisheries, in conjunction with the monitoring and enforcement priorities in the Pacific Region.

Enforcement issues are prioritized in the Compliance Plan (Section 10).
8

Ecosystem - Depleted species concerns

Juvenile rockfish bycatch

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems. A rockfish bycatch sampling program was implemented in 2002. The fishery has been allowed to continue under the existing management measures, including ongoing monitoring. Rockfish Conservation Areas and the activities permitted in them are under review.
9

Ecosystem – Marine Conservation Targets, Oceans Act and other initiatives

A number of new initiatives may impact on the prawn and shrimp trap fisheries:development ofMarine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act, National Marine Conservation Areas under the National Marine Conservation Areas Act, National Marine Wildlife Areas under the Canada Wildlife Act

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Manage fisheries to provide opportunities for economic prosperity.

Provide stability, transparency, and predictability in fisheries management and improved governance.

The Government of Canada committed to protecting 25% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2025, and working towards 30% by 2030.
10

Ecosystem - gear impacts

Prawn and shrimp trap gear is fixed bottom-contact gear which may impact biogenic structures and, although rare, groundlines and buoy lines may entangle some species at risk

Meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems.

Manage fisheries to provide opportunities for economic prosperity.

Fisheries may have collateral effects on other species, mediated by the ecological relationships of the target species. Fisheries should be managed in ways that do not violate the objectives for ecologically related species, as well as target species.

The Ecological Risk Assessment Framework drafted under the Policy for Managing the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas will be used to determine the level of risk in these fisheries and whether mitigation measures are required.

DFO’s Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy encompasses short and long-term goals and aims to promote the conservation, health and integrity of Canada’s Pacific Ocean cold-water coral and sponge species. The Strategy also takes into consideration the need to balance the protection of marine ecosystems with the maintenance of a prosperous economy.

Encounter protocols to reduce the risk of whale entanglement and assist in response have been adopted by the commercial fishery. Measures must be taken to avoid incidental capture and entanglement of Basking Sharks.

DFO coordinates a network of government and non-government experts in disentanglement and to assist in response to sick, injured, distressed or dead animals.

In support of international efforts to reduce marine litter, Canada signed the G7 Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities in 2018.

Governance process - IFMP Section 1

The prawn and shrimp by trap fisheries are governed by the Fisheries Act and Regulations made thereunder.

The Prawn Advisory Board (Section 16 of the IFMP) is the primary body guiding management decision-making processes for these fisheries. The Board includes representatives from DFO, elected representatives of commercial licence eligibility holders, processors, Sport Fishing Advisory Board representatives for recreational fishing interests, First Nations, and the Province of BC. The Prawn Advisory Board meets two times per year for a post-season review (September) and pre-season planning (November).

Compliance plan - IFMP Section 10

DFO Conservation and Protection pursues opportunities to monitor and enforce this fishery, in conjunction with the monitoring and enforcement priorities in the Pacific Region.

Priorities for the commercial fishing season are related to a compliance assessment through funding provided by the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association (Section 9). On-grounds monitors also provide an “observe, record and report” capability.

The investigation of illegal sales of prawns is an important enforcement priority. Other enforcement effort may be directed to monitoring for early setting before the season opening, patrolling for late fishing in local closures announced in-season, undersize prawns and follow up on delinquent logbook reporting.

Performance review - IFMP Section 11

Performance indicators are reported in the Post-Season Review (Section 17 of the IFMP).

DFO tracks the performance of the fisheries that it manages through the Sustainability Survey for Fisheries. The fish stocks in the survey are selected for their economic, ecological and/or cultural importance. The survey reports on DFO’s progress to implement its Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies, which guide the management of Canada’s fisheries, and provides other information about these fish stocks.

Stock assessment, sampling and research activities are outlined. The delivery of the commercial fishery is assessed by performance measures such as the amount of prawns landed and value of the fishery. The post-season review includes time spent attending to enforcement of the fishery. The outcome of ecosystem-related initiatives is also reported.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Contact

For additional information on this IFMP Summary please contact Dillon Buerk at: dillon.buerk@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

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