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Every season every trap counts

Release date: March 2017
Infographic: Every season every trap counts
Description: Every season every trap counts

Every season every trap counts

Prawn fishing in the Pacific Region has grown in popularity and recreational fishers share responsibility for the conservation and wise use of this valuable resource. By observing conditions of licence, and counting and reporting your catch, you show your commitment to managing a sustainable fishery. When you set your traps, remember your day limit is not a fishing target and prawns are seasonally variable and short-lived, so fish safely and responsibly and respect seasonal closures. On behalf of sustainable fishing opportunities for everyone in our waters, thank you for demonstrating your best practices in the prawn fishery!

What to expect

Catch success varies all year round

When it comes to prawn fishing there is no such thing as “an average condition of abundance.” Every season marks a new life stage and environmental conditions that impact survival, stock strength and what you can expect to see in the water or inside your trap. One thing is certain: count on a variable mix of life stages and catch success every season, area to area, year over year, throughout the region.

Expect a variable mix of life stages in your trap throughout the year

Protect egg-bearing females and respect fall and winter closures.

Carapace length (CL): Approximately 50% of total body length in millimeters.

Protect egg-bearing female prawns. It’s mandatory to release them.

To help protect next year’s prawn population, handle the catch with care, releasing egg-bearing females where they were caught.

Spring (Apr-June) new season

What’s important this season: New larvae may not be visible but they live in the upper water column for up to 3 months as they settle to the ocean floor. 22-34 mm CL

Summer (July-Sept) breeding season

What’s important this season: After an 8-month male-to-female sex transition period, newly transitioned 3-year-old females will breed with younger, 1- and 2-year-old males. 34-40 mm CL

Fall (Oct-Dec) spawning season

What’s important this season: Large, mature, egg-bearing females increase in prominence and seasonal closures will be in effect to protect them. 37-42 mm CL

Winter (Jan-Mar) egg season

What’s important this season: Winter closures will be in effect to protect large, mature, egg-bearing females as their eggs prepare to hatch before the 4-year lifecycle ends. 42-48 mm CL

What counts and why

Check your licence and know your catch limit

Make sure your fishing licence is up to date. Know your sport fishing regulations and mandatory conditions of licence.

Know your intended fishing area before you go

Plan where you intend to fish. Check fisheries notices throughout the year for subarea restrictions and closures.

Handle catch with care and release egg-bearing females

While the size of individual prawns is not restricted in the recreational fishery, fishers share responsibility for stock conservation. Handle catch with care, releasing all egg-bearing females and smaller prawns to help reduce mortality and improve abundance next season.

Check carefully for bycatch and release all rockfish

Check all your gear and remove and release all bycatch. Many rockfish populations are depressed and must be released from prawn traps.

Expect biological monitoring. Respect seasonal and area closures

The commercial fishery is open for an average of 53 days annually during the spring season. Recreational fishing is open to licence holders year round. Expect biological monitoring and respect seasonal and area closures in the spring during the commercial fishery and again in the fall/winter during spawning season.

Haul your traps slowly

Hauling your gear slowly allows smaller prawns and bycatch to exit before traps are brought on board.

Set traps for safety and success

Traps and lines

Each licenced individual is allowed 4 traps maximum. Each single trap must be marked with a buoy or, if 2 traps are attached to one ground line, the ground line may be marked with a single buoy. This applies to all traps fished from a dock, shoreline or by boat. A maximum of 4 traps is allowed on a single ground line with a floating tag or buoy required at both ends. Mechanical devices are permitted to recover traps.

Prevent gear entaglement

Keep navigation channels clear of lines and buoys. Use sinking line and/or weights, or coil excess line to keep it below the surface during all tide levels without sinking the buoy. Any fishing gear that interferes with safe navigation can be removed under the Navigation Protection Act.


2 cm (3/4 in) mesh, or 2.5 cm (1 in.) from knot to knot, will catch a good size range of prawns and allow smaller prawns to easily escape. To allow additional bycatch to escape in case traps are lost, make an opening in the top or side wall and sew it shut with a single strand of cotton twine that will biodegrade.


Use highly visible buoys, large enough to stay afloat in tides and currents in your fishing area. Only one name can appear on the buoy attached to your trap(s). Names and phone numbers must be legible and visible (at least 7.5 cm high). DO NOT USE: Gear marked with another fisher’s name. Avoid plastic jugs, bottles and Styrofoam blocks that may deteriorate or sink, or are hard to see or mark.

Individual limits

To conserve prawn populations it is mandatory to release egg-bearing females and observe all fishing regulations.

Your daily catch limit is not a target number, nor should it define your expectation of catch. Take only what you need.

  • Maximum number of traps = 4
  • Maximum daily catch = 125 prawns

Your responsibilities


  • Fish with a valid licence
  • Expect biological monitoring
  • Respect seasonal and area closures
  • Observe trap and catch limits and always release egg-bearing female prawns
  • Report your catch
  • Mark buoy(s) with your name
  • Release catch beyond your legal catch limit with the least amount of harm
  • Release live catch where it was caught


  • Keep more than your daily catch limit or possession limit
  • Trap prawns during seasonal closures or in permanently closed areas
  • Use someone else’s marked traps to fish
  • Release live catch into habitat other than where it was caught
  • Fish in sensitive glass sponge reefs
  • Buy, sell or barter for any fish caught by sport fishing
  • Kill, harm, or capture endangered species under the Species at Risk Act

Prepare to share catch information

Catch information is important for science and fisheries management. Know your limits, keep a record of your catch and be prepared to share information when monitored or asked to report. Individual results are strictly confidential.

24-hour reporting line: 1-800-465-4336 ORR (Observe, Record, Report Fisheries Violations)

For more information: 1-866-431-3474 Pacific Prawn Fishery and Shellfish Information, Limits and Closures

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