Scott Mahon unloads a fresh catch of wild spot prawns at Mad Dog Crabs in Duncan. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Huge demand for spot prawns, limited supply for Cowichan

Most of the more than 200 boats harvesting spot prawns freeze their catch and ship it away.

The lineup outside Mad Dog Crabs on Canada Avenue began forming about an hour before the business opened on a recent Saturday morning.

Demand for wild spot prawns — considered to be the best in the world — is enormous and the Duncan seafood store will have trouble satisfying all its customers again this year.

“Popularity is soaring for what some consider B.C.’s jewel of the sea,” explains Katie Mahon, who along with her husband, Scott, owns Mad Dog Crabs.

“[But] consumers may be disappointed to learn that the majority of spot prawns never hit the plates of local seafood lovers.”

Mad Dog Crabs unloaded its first shipment of prawns on May 11 and customers eagerly snapped up the popular catch. More shipments will arrive on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between May 23 and the end of the month.

Mahon says 90 per cent of the prawns harvested along the B.C. coast are exported overseas. She says this is not a new trend and prawn harvesting has always been an export fishery. Most of the more than 200 boats harvesting spot prawns freeze their catch and ship it away.

Scott Mahon says it’s all about maximizing revenue, a marketing decision that all businesses have to consider in order to survive.

With China and Japan winding up in a bidding war for B.C. prawns, the price can go up $2 to $3 per pound, thereby increasing that boat’s haul by between $35,000 and $75,000.

“Therefore, fishermen are not willing to sell in the local live market and lose out on this chance,” Mahon says.

“Fishermen who want to support the local market are caught in a Catch-22,” he explains.

“Their deckhands get a share of the take. If the boat in the next berth is selling to export buyers and offering more money, the workers or subcontractors will jump ship.

“Also, this is the fisherman’s livelihood and therefore, like all of us, they want to make the most income they can for the limited two months they get to fish.”

Last year the season was just 32 days, so highest bidders are going to get the catch, a situation he says is understandable.

Just Posted

Cowichan police warn of crytocurrency scam

More than $64,000 in losses so far

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Cowichan Provincial Park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

City of Duncan considers tougher laws for drug houses

New bylaw gets first three readings by council

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Tsilhqot’in Nation urges Taseko Mines to stop drilling plans before conflict grows

Nation said Teztan Biny area is of ‘profound cultural and spiritual importance’

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Pedestrian struck by vehicle in Stz’uminus dies from injuries

A male pedestrian was struck in the early morning of June 25

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from B.C. furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Most Read