A DFO decision threatens prawn harvester livelihoods and local food access

June 23, 2021

Thank you to the 1,836 of you who signed the petition asking DFO to reconsider effectively banning tubbed frozen at sea prawn tails. Because of this petition the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) commenced an emergency study on the issue and unanimously agreed that the regulation reinterpretation was out of line. This week the FOPO committee has made recommendations to Fisheries Minister, Bernadette Jordan, asking DFO to support the practice of tubbing prawn tails at sea for future seasons. Now we need to see the Minister address our concerns by enacting the recommendations from the FOPO committee, ensuring job security for our harvesters, and food security for our coastal communities. 

April 21, 2021

When the BC spot prawn fishery was threatened this spring we asked you to speak up, and the support from the community has been overwhelming! Fishing families are grateful to know that you care about small scale harvesters and local seafood.

We’ve gained enough momentum to bring a new petition to the minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard. There are still no clear regulations for freezing and tubbing prawns and this has to change. This petition is asking for DFO to work with harvesters to develop a clear process for freezing prawn tails in tubs. We have 60 days to reach 500 signatures, and we know we can do it with your help. Thank you for your support!

March 11, 2021 

The federal government is changing the way they interpret a regulation that has been in place for over 40 years, making it impossible for fish harvesters to sell prawns frozen in seawater to a local, domestic market. The commercial spot prawn industry is a sustainable fishery, bringing $45 million each year to the BC economy. With no consultation, and only a few months notice this change has effectively cut off  the market for local BC prawns. 

DFO’s decision, in the middle of the pandemic, is adding more strife for fish harvesters, who are already facing huge market challenges. Wholesale prices for prawn have dropped more than 50% since COVID-19 hit in 2020, and many prawn harvesters have tried to recover their losses by selling their catch locally. 

Remote coastal communities are also experiencing barriers to local seafood access, as most of the fish and seafood being caught is shipped and sold internationally. This sudden change in regulation puts the livelihoods of prawn harvesters, their families, as well as coastal economies and local food security at risk.

Our Community Development Director, Cailyn Siider, is also a prawn harvester from Sointula, BC. Cailyn commented, “As fishermen, our connection to the seafood we harvest isn’t just tied to the decks of our boats. Sharing and selling our catch to feed our family, friends, and communities is an integral part of our livelihood and culture. The ability to distribute our prawns locally can be an act of caring for our communities, something that connects us not only to the people whose bellies and freezers we fill but to the ecosystem we are so deeply a part of. This sudden and perplexing re-interpretation of regulation by DFO threatens not only the health and wellbeing of our families and communities, but that of everyone who depends on spot prawns for food, both as a premium product and as subsistence."

Read the press release