What’s the big deal about spot prawns?

Sonia - May 9, 2016

Every year, the spot prawn season opens in BC for just 40 days in May and early June. Spot prawns are on everyone’s mind and in the news during the lead up. Festivals take place at the Fishermen’s Wharf and at restaurants all over the city to celebrate the brief availability of these local delicacies. But it wasn’t always like this.

10 years ago, most local Vancouverites had never even heard of spot prawns. The entire industry was directed at an overseas market. Our prawns were caught and immediately shipped overseas. Meanwhile, our markets were, and continue to be flooded with foreign shrimp and prawns.

The industrial prawn and shrimp industry is some of the worst in the seafood world for social and environmental injustice. The media is full of articles, exposés, and investigative reports like this one from The Guardian on slavery in the Thai shrimp industry — the source of most of the shrimp available in supermarkets in Canada.

Shrimping is notoriously damaging to the environment as well. Typically shrimp are either farmed, causing incredible pollution, or caught by dragging the sea floor, causing massive ecosystem damage.

And furthermore, shrimp and prawns are typically treated with around a dozen chemicals including MSG to mask poor quality and to give them a 4 year shelf life! But meanwhile, in BC we have a thriving local prawn and shrimp industry — and we almost never see those products in our grocery stores.

Ten years ago, local chef Rob Clark and independent fishermen at our False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf in Vancouver began to create local markets for BC spot prawns and the result has been an overwhelming outpouring of support from local consumers! This year, the spot prawn celebrations are larger than ever. This CBC article  and video outlines the details about the 10th Annual Spot Prawn Festival and includes some great spot prawn recipes. Local fishing families are earning a fair price for their catch. And a growing percentage of their catch is staying in local markets.

Unlike their prawn and shrimp counterparts in the international industrial seafood system, BC spot prawns are trap caught. The mesh and opening size of the traps are very specific so that they are excellent at targeting only large spot prawns. In addition, traps keep animals alive so any by catch that does make its way into the traps is immediately released unharmed. The limited prawn season in BC means that our prawns will already have spawned before the fishery opens, preserving the future of these stocks. In addition to being environmentally sound, and socially just, BC spot prawns are large, firm, and incredibly flavourful!

We’re excited to be able to bring these delicacies to you live in-season in Vancouver and flash frozen at sea throughout the year and out of town!

Sonia - May 9, 2016


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What’s the big deal about spot prawns?

Sonia - May 9, 2016

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