Shellfish Atlas

About the Shellfish Atlas

Shellfish is a common term used to describe marine invertebrates, particularly those that are fished. In BC, over 35 species are fished commercially. Around Haida Gwaii/QCI, there are more than 20 such species. Over the past 30 years, the economic importance and value of shellfish fisheries has markedly increased.

This Shellfish Atlas is presently centered on describing commercial shellfish fisheries around the Islands. The major current commercial shellfish fisheries are: Dungeness crab, geoducks, prawns, razor clams and red sea urchins. Species that were previously fished commercially but not in recent years include: butter clam, goose barnacle, green sea urchins, king crab, native littleneck clam, sea cucumbers, and weathervane scallop. Commercial species with minor or intermittent catches include: horse clam, octopus, neon flying squid, opal squid, red squid and pink, humpback and sidestrip shrimp. The northern abalone fishery was closed coastwide in 1990 due to low stock abundance and in 1999, the northern abalone was listed as ‘threatened’ by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

A few of the commercial shellfish fisheries have had a long history here – the first commercial catch for northern abalone was reported in 1910, for razor clam in 1923 and for Dungeness crab in 1933. Most other shellfish fisheries around Haida Gwaii/QCI began in the 1980s. Due to the recent evolution of these commercial shellfish fisheries and availability of digital catch information, the catch data by DFO management subarea presented here spans from 1980 to 2002.

In future, please expect information placing the Haida Gwaii/QCI fisheries into context with fishery landings from the North Coast and the BC Coast, in addition to providing more summary information on fisheries management and socio-economic perspectives.

For a comprehensive summary of commercial shellfish life histories and fisheries, refer to Living Marine Legacy of Gwaii Haanas. II: Marine Invertebrate Baseline to 2000 and Invertebrate-related Management Issues, a Parks Canada Technical Report in Ecosystem Science, compiled and published by Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.


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