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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