Sustainable Fishing Methods: Traps
Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Rating: Good Alternative
Biological Information: Spot Prawns are the largest shrimp on the West Coast and can be found from Alaska down to Mexico. They prefer to live on the rocky seafloor where they can hide from larger fish who have an voracious appetite for them. They are easy to identify by their reddish brown bodies, striped legs and white spots on their tails. They are a short lived species, lasting four to six years. Spot prawns are protandric hermaphrodites, meaning they are all born male and after reaching a specific size or age transform into females. They usually spend the first two years of their life as males and then take 6 months to fully transform into females. The male prawn will mate at least once and then mate again as a female. The female is capable of mating a second time, but her reproduction is greatly reduced. Spot Prawns have a rich, creamy and mildly sweet flavor with a firm texture. You can prep the prawn by first deveining and/or deshelling or you can go ahead and skip this step and cook the prawn whole.
Sustainability: California Spot prawns are a highly regulated trap only fishery. Traps have minimal by-catch and negligible environmental damage. Overfishing in the past created problems for the Spot Prawn in California. Little scientific data is available on the commercial Spot Prawn fishery but strong and steady landings along with minimal fishing pressure suggest that the fishery is healthy. The vast majority of prawns available are farmed and imported from Southeast Asia. Farms are built by clearing Mangrove forests that are essential to for wild fish and shoreline protection to make large ponds. Typical farming practices require use of high levels of antibiotics and other treatments which eventually spoil the land requiring farmers to expand along the shoreline in a destructive cycle of deforestation. Wild caught prawn fisheries commonly result in extremely high by-catch levels as well as reef destruction. For these reasons, caution is advised when purchasing unverified farmed or wild prawns.