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Euphausiid (krill) fishery

About 20 species of euphausiids occur in B.C. waters. Biomass is dominated by 5 species: Euphausia pacifica, Thysanoessa spinifera, Thysanoessa inspinata, Thysanoessa longipes and Thysanoessa rashii. Euphausia pacifica accounts for 70 to 100 % of the euphausiid biomass in the Strait of Georgia where the commercial fishery occurs. A trawl fishery began in the Strait of Georgia in 1970 as an experimental fishery, and was licensed under category "Z-F" in 1983. The number of licences was limited in 1993, a total of eighteen fishers qualified. In recent years activity in the fishery has been less than 10 vessels.

The harvest of euphausiids in British Columbia is limited to 500 tonnes annually. The fishery occurs in the Strait of Georgia and several Mainland inlet areas with most landings occurring in the late Fall and early in the New Year. All catches are weighed and validated as they are landed to provide for area based quota management.

Fishers deploy fine mesh plankton trawl nets that are towed several metres below the surface after dusk. The catch is either frozen at sea on board the catcher vessel, or placed in totes and iced for transport to a land based facility for further processing and freezing. Most product is used as a feed supplement in fish food for the fin fish aquaculture industry and for aquarium needs. There are also limited and developing markets for uses of euphausiids as a human food product in Canada and abroad.

Euphasiids constitute an integral part of the food chain and are an important food source for a variety of marine animals, including hake, herring, rockfish, salmon, seabirds, and whales.

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