Spot prawn season has been delayed by one month. Here's why fishermen say it's good news.
VANCOUVER -- Seafood lovers looking to get their hands on wild B.C. spot prawns will have to wait a few more weeks because of the pandemic.
"Mother's Day weekend is usually the opening weekend, so people are coming in and asking for it and yeah, we don't have it," said Cato Fege, store manager at Kitsilano's 7seas Fish Market.
B.C. spot prawns are a lucrative business for fishermen and seafood shops as they're a delicacy with a world-wide reputation for their sweet flavour and jumbo size.
Fege said the succulent prawns made up 15 per cent of their sales in May and June of 2019.
"They're like nothing else," he said. "People get excited for months and months leading up to spot prawn season."
The prawn and shrimp season was originally scheduled to start no later than May 7, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada pushed the date back to June 4.
According to a notice, the DFO said the decision was made in collaboration with the industry, citing "marketing uncertainties," B.C.'s provincial state of emergency and the 45-day suspension of all-sea observers as reasons for the postponement.
Stewart McDonald, a commercial prawn fisherman, said it was a wise decision.
"If we fished in May with no restaurants, with no tourism, with so much uncertainty, we weren't sure how we were going to sell them," he told CTV News.
But now, restaurants might soon be able to resume dine-in service in the coming weeks. Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that was one of the sectors that will be allowed to reopen.
Despite the one-month delay, McDonald said there will still be an abundance of spot prawns.
"We fish in the spring for scientific reasons -- because it's the best time to harvest but in actual fact, they do get bigger into May, June and July. So, it could actually be a benefit because we'll have larger sizes, I believe."
In the meantime, local fish markets are trying to entice customers to other B.C. seafood.
"We try to encourage more halibut, rockfish or lingcod that's readily available that the fishermen are out fishing for," said Jenice Yu with Fresh Ideas Start Here.
Besides spot prawns being delayed, sockeye salmon season is also lagging behind, Yu said.
"There are delays in fishing due to COVID-19 and we're all doing trying our best to cope and also accommodate all the changes that are happening," she said.
Once the spot prawn season starts up again, it won't be around for long. The season typically lasts six to eight weeks.