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Research Document - 1999/130

Implications on Assessment of the British Columbia Prawn Populations with the Adoption of a Quota Management System.

By J. Boutillier and J. Bond


The prawn trap fishery in British Columbia is currently managed to prevent both growth and recruitment overfishing. Growth overfishing is controlled through size limits and manipulation of fishery opening times, while recruitment overfishing is managed using a fixed escapement policy. Implementation of this policy is achieved by inseason at-sea monitoring of the index of spawner abundance (based on catch per trap), and closures are implemented when this index falls below a set minimum monthly index.

During the last three years fishing intensity in the prawn trap fishery has risen dramatically, with the 1998 fishery lasting only 93 days coastwide. It has been suggested that a less intense fishing pattern over a longer period would be favourable, and fisheries managers have been considering the possibility of adopting a quota type system for prawns and abandoning the current fixed escapement framework.

This paper discusses the critical problems and questions that must be answered in order to develop a quota management system, such as determining the population size, the spatial scale of the population, and how the population responds to exploitation, and considers methods of addressing these problems. It is noted, however, that many such methods may prove difficult to implement for prawns and that the data and analytical requirements would be substantial, making assessments of the prawn stocks highly expensive.

The paper concludes that entering into a quota system for prawns would be a very expensive and time-consuming undertaking, considering the data and analytical requirements. The problems that the prawn fishery is facing may need to be further examined to determine whether there are alternatives other than a quota management system.

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