A select few Summit delegates had the unique opportunity to join fishermen Steve Johansen and Frank Keitsch aboard the Organic Ocean spot prawn fishing boat early Tuesday morning. It was a hard sell to ask the 6 delegates to tear themselves away from the thought provoking sessions, or leave the comfort of the climate controlled conference center and brave the unseasonably cold Vancouver temperatures for a two-hour excursion, but those things were quickly forgotten once on the water. As we boated toward the snow-capped peaks in the distance, Steve and Frank gave insight into Organic Ocean’s philosophy and how important it is to keep the fishery sustainable for their own business needs as well as for the longevity of the species. Steve and Frank harvest their spot prawns with traps rather than nets, which leave little impact on the sea bed and allow for little to no by catch. In additional, much of what Organic Ocean harvests is distributed to local restaurants, which keeps their environmental impact and carbon footprint low. After a short 15 minute boat ride we arrived at their buoys and watched as they pulled up the traps, which boasted colorful and active spot prawns. These traps had been placed 24 hours prior and while they produced plentiful prawns for our viewing – and tasting - pleasure; one can imagine how bountiful they would be over a whole season.
Instead of trying to describe with words the incredibly interesting experience learning about BC’s spot prawn fishery, I’ll revert to the saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” One last thought before I leave you with these snapshots: Steve’s infectiously positive attitude left the delegates with a lot to be hopeful about, both in terms of the spot prawn fishery and fisheries in general. Maybe we need more of a positive attitude to move in the right direction?
We conduct these field experiences as part of the Seafood Summit because it gives the delegates the opportunity to see (and touch, and taste and feel) fisheries in their true form, and truly wrap their heads around what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully you'll be able to join us one one of these trips in the future.