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Photo: Top view of a prawn (Photo: Steve Sviatko)
Latin Name

Pandalus platyceros

Group Name


Taxonomy details


Prawns are found along the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska to southern California. Their range also extends to Asia, with significant populations off the coasts of Korea and Japan. Prawns live in subtidal sandy and rocky habitats, at ocean depths ranging from the intertidal zone to 400 metres below, but normally at a depth of at least 70 metres.

Species Description

Photo: Side view of a prawn (Photo: Steve Sviatko)

Prawns vary in colour from a dark red to an orange-red or pink; juveniles are sometimes green or brown. Running horizontally across their head are several white lines. They have a smooth, glossy body with an abdomen divided into several segments, the first and fifth bearing a distinctive white spot. They are a hermaphroditic species that begins life as male and becomes female in its later years. Prawns grow to about 20 centimetres, and live for four years.

Prawns (Pandalus platyceros), are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp in British Columbian waters, all belonging to the family Pandalidae.

The Shellfish Section within the DFO Marine Ecosystems and Aquaculture Division (MEAD) is responsible for providing stock assessment advice on prawn stocks along the coast of British Columbia. The stock assessment and management frame work for prawns is based on an escapement model often referred to as the Spawner Index (SI) Model (Boutillier and Bond 2000). Growth and recruitment parameters for prawns, and used by the model, are obtained from semi-annual fishery independent surveys conducted in Howe Sound, British Columbia. Although the escapement index was developed using fishery independent standardized gear and bait, much of the current monitoring of the SI is done using fishery dependent fishing gear; therefore, gear standardization studies are also conducted by the Shellfish Section. Ongoing research and evaluation of commercial fishing effort is conducted to ensure consistent application of the SI.

In addition to surveys the Shellfish Section also receives and analyses in-season spawner index samples and provides advice to managers on stock status. Post-season sampling is also conducted in high use areas to monitor stock status outside of the commercial season. This sampling is carried out in collaboration with the prawn industry (Pacific Prawn Fishermen's Association). The Shellfish Data Unit within MEAD also maintains the commercial logbook data.


Illustration of a prawn


Prawn Staff:

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