March 12th, 2021
Letter to Minister Jordan Concerning Frozen-at-Sea Spot Prawn Regulations
Dear Minister Jordan,
Many concerned constituents of mine have reached out over the past week regarding the recent decision by DFO to stop the sale of frozen-at-sea spot prawns. This decision has far-reaching implications for prawn fishers in my riding and across the British Columbia coast, and I implore you to reverse the decision.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, global markets have been inaccessible for prawn fishers. By limiting the sale of frozen-at-sea spot prawns within Canada, BC spot prawn harvesters are unable to earn an income in the industry they have invested heavily in. According to information from the industry, over 600 families will be seriously affected by this decision.
My understanding of the rationale behind this decision is based on the DFO regulations that catches must be “readily available” for inspection, and that prawns frozen in seawater have been deemed not “readily available.” Enforcement has been inspecting live spot prawns on sorting tables aboard vessels for decades and has encountered no significant violations of catch guidelines. Furthermore, many other seafood products are processed and frozen at sea, including blocks that are less “readily available” for inspection than frozen spot prawns.
Spot prawn shrimp remain in high demand, and spot prawns are abundant and well-managed. Local chefs and restauranteurs will be unable to access local prawns and offer them to their customers. Further, fishmongers, grocery stores and Community Supported Fisheries will be hit hard by the loss of a product that many are looking for.
I ask that you reconsider this decision and consult with industry representatives and workers who are deeply affected by this decision. My office remains available to meet with you should you wish to discuss this further.
Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni