Seasonal recreational prawn and shrimp closures in Stuart Channel, Saanich Inlet and Alberni Inlet
Recreational prawn and shrimp harvesting in B.C. is a time-honoured tradition, and we are working to protect these resources for generations to come. Seasonal restrictions relieve fishing pressures and support spawning prawns and shrimp.
Stuart Channel, Saanich Inlet and Alberni Inlet are used heavily for recreational prawn and shrimp harvesting which can significantly deplete stocks in those areas. To mitigate this, we implement prawn and shrimp pulse-fishing closures in parts of these areas for periods between Labour Day and April of each year.
As well as checking for planned closures, make sure that you check the area you intend to harvest for sport fishing regulations and restrictions before you head out to harvest.
Maps of potential closures
Parts or all of the following sub-areas may be closed during pulse fishing periods between September and April.
Prawns and shrimp spawn from January to March. Winter closures protect large, mature egg-bearing females as their eggs prepare to hatch, providing long-term stock sustainability. Closures apply to all prawns and shrimp regardless of species, sizes or sex as egg-bearing females may be accidentally harvested when traps are placed in the water.
Depending on the results of fall spawner index testing, we may close the following areas from January 1 to March 31:
- Subareas 13-1, 13-12 to 13-17 (Quadra/Cortes Islands)
- Subareas 15-1, 15-2, 15-3 (Powell River/Lund)
- Subareas 16-1, 16-2, 16-5 to 16-10, 16-11, 16-16 to 16-18 (Malaspina Strait/lower Jervis Inlet and Sechelt/Salmon Inlets)
- Subareas 17-5, 17-10 to 17-13, 17-15, 17-16, 17-18 (Nanaimo and portion Stuart Channel)
- Subarea 19-7 to 19-12 (Saanich Inlet)
- Subarea 23-1 to 23-4 (Alberni Inlet/Barkley Sound)
- Subareas 25-1 to 25-5, 25-8, 25-16 (Tahsis/Muchalat Inlets)
- Subareas 28-1, 28-2, 28-5 (portion of Howe Sound)
Partial closures with pulse fishing
Parts of Stuart Channel, Alberni Inlet and Saanich Inlet may allow pulse fishing from January to March.
Spawner index sampling will begin with the commercial prawn fishery as early as the first week of May and will continue throughout the commercial fishing season. This testing helps us to understand how many female prawns are in the water. Closures are important during testing as recreational gear will become tangled in our equipment.
Tests are expected to occur for the first week of the commercial fishery throughout the following areas:
Fall closures occur after Labour Day weekend to spread out fall fishing efforts and increase prawn and shrimp abundance. This may allow us to extend recreational fishing opportunities.
The following areas only allow pulse fishing:
- Subareas 17-5, 17-6, 17-9 (Stuart Channel)
- Subareas 19-7 to 19-12 (Saanich Inlet)
- Subareas 23-1 to 23-3 (Alberni Inlet)
These areas are closed on the following dates:
- September 5 to September 15
- October 1 to October 15
- November 1 to November 15
- December 1 to December 15
- January 1 until further notice
For more information, see Fishery Notice FN0865.
Pulse fishing, which is when an area is open for part of the month and closed for the rest, may be implemented in some subareas to protect stocks by reducing the overall number of prawns harvested. Pulse fishing also spreads out fishing efforts, allowing fishing opportunities to extend later into the year.
Restrictions are determined each season through spawner index testing and are based on the number of spawning females in the water. The pulse fishing process was developed collaboratively with recreational and commercial harvesters and in agreement with local First Nations.
Spawner index testing
The spawner index is a measure of the average number of female prawns caught in a standardized prawn trap fished for a 24 hour period.
Spawner index testing is performed by commercial vessels which do the sampling under scientific licence issued by DFO. Each vessel has a DFO trained prawn observer on board. Observers undergo certification and annual training and testing.
Spawner index testing starts in the commercial fishery in the first week of May, and continues throughout the commercial fishery, resulting in commercial fishing closures if the index declines towards the management targets. After the commercial fishing season, testing will occur again in October or early November prior to prawns spawning.
- Video: Prawn spawner index in Howe Sound
- Prawn by trap integrated fisheries management plan
- Prawns spawn
- Date modified: