Scott Mahon unloads a fresh catch of wild spot prawns at Mad Dog Crabs in Duncan. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Huge demand for spot prawns, limited supply for Cowichan

Most of the more than 200 boats harvesting spot prawns freeze their catch and ship it away.

The lineup outside Mad Dog Crabs on Canada Avenue began forming about an hour before the business opened on a recent Saturday morning.

Demand for wild spot prawns — considered to be the best in the world — is enormous and the Duncan seafood store will have trouble satisfying all its customers again this year.

“Popularity is soaring for what some consider B.C.’s jewel of the sea,” explains Katie Mahon, who along with her husband, Scott, owns Mad Dog Crabs.

“[But] consumers may be disappointed to learn that the majority of spot prawns never hit the plates of local seafood lovers.”

Mad Dog Crabs unloaded its first shipment of prawns on May 11 and customers eagerly snapped up the popular catch. More shipments will arrive on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between May 23 and the end of the month.

Mahon says 90 per cent of the prawns harvested along the B.C. coast are exported overseas. She says this is not a new trend and prawn harvesting has always been an export fishery. Most of the more than 200 boats harvesting spot prawns freeze their catch and ship it away.

Scott Mahon says it’s all about maximizing revenue, a marketing decision that all businesses have to consider in order to survive.

With China and Japan winding up in a bidding war for B.C. prawns, the price can go up $2 to $3 per pound, thereby increasing that boat’s haul by between $35,000 and $75,000.

“Therefore, fishermen are not willing to sell in the local live market and lose out on this chance,” Mahon says.

“Fishermen who want to support the local market are caught in a Catch-22,” he explains.

“Their deckhands get a share of the take. If the boat in the next berth is selling to export buyers and offering more money, the workers or subcontractors will jump ship.

“Also, this is the fisherman’s livelihood and therefore, like all of us, they want to make the most income they can for the limited two months they get to fish.”

Last year the season was just 32 days, so highest bidders are going to get the catch, a situation he says is understandable.

Just Posted

Music trivia tournament in Duncan a hit on World Alzheimer’s Day

More than $13,000 raised by people naming that tune

Pair of 11-year-old Cowichan highland dancers heading to Virginia for competition

Amelia Marsh and Maya Sundstrom are excited about the possibilities

Chris Wilkinson column: Where are you on the Happiness U-Curve?

With age and maturity, the focus turns away from social competition and toward social connection.

Drivesmart column: Wet weather driving dos and don’ts

Wet pavement alone can increase stopping distances by more than 10 per cent.

Guest column: Why “Weir” Ready: with James Buchan

This is part two of a feature series by the Cowichan Watershed Board

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Most Read