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Fisheries Research Board of Canada
Biological Station
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada


Shrimp fishing in British Columbia is a minor operation, with total landings of 764.5 metric tons, valued at $300,000 in 1966. Six species of the genera Pandalus and Pandalopsis are generally recognized by fishermen. Main gear is the beam trawl, but there are also baited traps which are fished for species on rocky bottom. Commercial fishing has been carried on for over 75 years, and evidently began near Victoria. Between the world wars, production mainly from the Vancouver area was dominated by Pandalus danae and remained below 110 tons. A post-war expansion was supported by P. borealis and after 1952, yields of P. jordani from Vancouver Island grounds have kept production at a level exceeding 450 tons. In 1954 several productive areas were found by the Fisheries Research Board of Canada. The assumption is that certain stocks are now being trawled rather intensely. Prospects for future expansion are good.



En Colombie britannique, la pêche de la crevette n'a qu'une importance secondaire, les apports totaux s'étant montés en 1966 à 764,5 tonnes, pour une valeur de 300 000 dollars. Les pêcheurs identifient généralement six espèces, appartenant aux genres Pandalus et Pandalopsis. Elles se pêchent surtout au chalut à perche, mais l'on utilise aussi des pièges appâtés pour capturer les espèces des fonds rocheux. La pêche commerciale s'exerce depuis plus de 75 ans, et a manifestement débuté aux environs de Victoria. Entre les deux guerres mondiales, la production (surtout dans la zone de Vancouver) était dominée par Pandalus danae, et n'atteignait pas 110 tonnes. Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la pêche a connu une expansion alimentée par P. borealis, et depuis 1952 la production se maintient au-dessus de 450 tonnes grâce à l'exploitation des P. jordani des bancs de l'île Vancouver. En 1954, l'Office technique et scientifique des pêches canadien a découvert plusieurs zones productives. On suppose que certains stocks font actuellement l'objet d'un chalutage assez intense. Les perspectives d'expansion sont bonnes.



La pesca del camarón en la Columbia Británica es de pequeña eseala: en 1966 se capturaron 764,5 toneladas métricas en total, valoradas en 300.000 dólares. Los pescadores suelen reconocer seis especies de los géneros Pandalus y Pandalopsis. El equipo principal son los artes de vara, pero también se emplean nasas cebadas para pescar especies de los fondos rocosos. La pesca comercial se viene practicando desde hace más de 75 años y evidentemente empezó cerca de Victoria. Durante el período comprendido entre las dos guerras mundiales, la producción, que procedía principalmente de la zona de Vancouver, estaba dominada por Pandalus danae y no llegó a superar las 110 toneladas. Después de la guerra se produjo un aumento, atribuible a P. borealis, y desde 1952, los rendimientos de P. jordani de los caladeros de Vancouver Island han mantenido la producción a un nivel superior a las 450 toneladas. En 1954, la Junta le Investigaciones Pesqueras del Canadá encontró varias zonas productivas. La impresión es que ciertas poblaciones se están pescando al arrastre actualmente, con bastante intensidad. Las perspectivas de expansión en lo futuro son buenas.


The shrimp fishery is a minor yet thriving fishing operation in British Columbian waters. In 1966 the total catch was 764.5 metric tons and worth $300,000 to fishermen, an amount less than half percent of the total catch value of the province's fisheries. The commercial species which belong to the family Pandalidae, in order of decreasing importance, are the “smooth pink” (Pandalus jordani), “pink” (P. borealis), “prawn” (P. platyceros), “sidestripe” (Pandalopsis dispar), “humpback” (Pandalus hypsinotus), “coonstripe” (P. danae). These, and three other species not generally recognized by fishermen, were described by Butler (1964).

In 1966, 712,700 kg, or 93.2 percent of the total catch, were taken by trawls. The main type in use is the beam trawl fished by small (9 to 12 m) combination vessels. Traps account for the remainder of landings, made up largely of P. platyceros and a smaller amount of P. danae. Descriptions of shrimp gear and fishing methods have appeared earlier (Anon. 1967; Butler, (in press); Cameron, 1960).


A fishery was in existence before 1890 when shrimps were being taken near Victoria (Rathbun, 1900). Taylor (1912) reported seeing P. danae on sale in Victoria. According to reports, trawling began in English Bay in 1917, and probably shrimps were fished in Vancouver Harbour and inner Burrard Inlet before that date. Between world wars I and II, shrimp fishing was centered around Vancouver where the most valuable species was P. danae, and a smaller fishery near Prince Rupert was supported by P. borealis and Pandalopsis dispar (Berkeley, 1929).

During the last war, shrimp production dropped to a low level and began to expand again only after 1946. In the late 1940's, and until about 1952, practically all fishing was carried out for P. borealis near Vancouver, with small sporadic operations in northern areas. The next decade saw the development of several grounds on the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island, where P. jordani was the dominant commercial species (Butler, 1953a). During the same period, exploitation of stocks began and increased considerably in Chatham Sound near Prince Rupert.


In 1953 and 1954, the Fisheries Research Board, with financial support from the Industrial Development Service of the Canadian Department of Fisheries, conducted exploratory trawling in most British Columbian coastal inlets (Butler, 1953b; Butler and Legaré, 1954; Butler and Dubokovic, 1955a). The most important find was a ground near Comox, east coast of Vancouver Island, which was fished within days after its discovery, and has remained productive to the present. A promising area in Barkley Sound, surveyed in June 1954, was not exploited until 1960. Although shrimp fishing started in Chatham Sound during 1952 or 1953, Board exploration in 1954 has assisted fishermen in their development of the ground.

Exploration along the outer coastal region in 1955 did not reveal economically usable shrimp stocks (Butler and Dubokovic, 1955b) and subsequent surveys off the west coast of Vancouver Island (Butler, 1959; Ronholt, 1964) had the same result. Finally in 1966, results of trawling in Queen Charlotte Sound indicated the presence of a stock of potential value (Heritage and Butler, 1967).


Shrimp fishing grounds of British Columbia are shown in Fig. 1. The main trawling areas are in Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound, Stuart Channel, Barkley Sound, Chatham Sound and waters adjacent to Comox. Prawn trapping is carried out along the east coast of Vancouver Island, and in several mainland inlets from Smith Inlet to Howe Sound.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 Map of British Columbian coast showing shrimp fishing areas.

Total annual catches, from 1921 to 1966, are summarized in Table I. Until after world war II production was low, not reaching 110,000 kg. From 1947, catches increased steadily from 48,650 kg until they reached 572,100 kg in 1953. Apart from a slight drop in 1954, shrimp production has remained between 450 and 900 metric tons to the present. The higher level prevailing during the past 14 yr has been due largely to good yields from stocks of P. jordani on southern grounds of the province. In 1965 70.3 percent, and in other years since 1960 from 36.7 to 53.6 percent, of the total production has arisen from grounds surveyed by the Fisheries Research Board.

No estimate of the rate of exploitation of shrimp stocks is available. The assumption is however, that the prevailing rate is high on southern trawling grounds and that further fishing effort will not increase catches appreciably. Even so, grounds in English Bay and Howe Sound, near Vancouver, have produced steadily since the late 1940's without regulation or management. Along the whole coast stocks of P. platyceros available to trapping are believed to be utilized at a low level.


British Columbia shrimp and prawn landings 1921 to 1966

1921–25  41,350
1926–30  50,750
1931–35  70,250
1936–40  49,000
1941–45  24,650


Favorable economic factors, including a high market demand for shrimps, encourage the expansion of the British Columbian fishery. It is expected that production will increase by 450 metric tons at least, within the next 10 yr. The increase will be achieved partly by greater utilization of known stocks, particularly of P. borealis in the vicinity of Prince Rupert. Also, prospects of finding new prawn trap grounds in coastal inlets, and outer coastal trawling areas for P. jordani, appear good.


Berkeley, A.E., 1929 A study of the shrimps of British Columbia. Prog.Rep.Pacif.biol.Stn Nanaimo, (4):9–10

Butler, T.H., 1953a The appearance of a new commercial shrimp in a newly developed shrimp fishery. Prog.Rep.Pacif.Cst Stns., (94):30–1

Butler, T.H., 1953b A shrimp survey by the INVESTIGATOR NO. 1, April, 1953. Circ.biol.Stn, Nanaimo, (28):5 p.

Butler, T.H., 1959 Results of shrimp trawling by INVESTIGATOR NO. 1, June, 1959. Circ.biol. Stn,Nanaimo, (55):4 p.

Butler, T.H., 1964 Growth, reproduction, and distribution of pandalid shrimps in British Columbia. J.Fish.Res.Bd Can., 21(6):1403–52

Butler, T.H., (in press) Synopsis of biological data on the prawn Pandalus platyceros Brandt 1851. Paper presented at the FAO World Scientific Conference on the Biology and Culture of Shrimps and Prawns; Mexico, 12–21 June. 1967

Butler, T.H. and G.V. Dubokovic, 1955a Shrimp and prawn prospecting on the British Columbia coast, June to December, 1954. Circ.biol.Stn,Nanaimo, (35):92 p.

Butler, T.H., 1955b Shrimp prospecting in the offshore region of the British Columbia coast, June to August, 1955. Circ.biol.Stn,Nanaimo, (39):23 p.

Butler, T.H. and H.E.J. Legaré, 1954 Shrimp prospecting in regions of the British Columbia coast, November 1953 to March 1954. Circ.biol.Stn,Nanaimo, (31):42 p.

Cameron, H.A., 1960 British Columbia's shrimp fishery. Trade News, 12(8):11–3

Heritage, G.D. and T.H. Butler, 1967 Shrimp exploration in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, June to August, 1966. Circ.biol.Stn,Nanaimo, (76):39 p.

Rathbun, R., 1900 A review of the fisheries in the contiguous waters of the State of Washington and British Columbia. Rep.U.S.Commnr.Fish., 1899:251–350

Ronholt, L.L., 1964 Shrimp explorations off Vancouver Island (British Columbia) by M/V JOHN N. COBB, October-November 1962. Comml Fish.Rev., 26(6):1–7

Taylor, G.W., 1912 Preliminary list of one hundred and twenty-nine species of British Columbia decapod crustaceans. Contr.Canad.Biol., 1906–10:187–214

ANON., 1966 Shrimp fishing in British Columbia. Fish.Can., 19(7):13–5

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