Crab Fishing in BC
Dungeness Crab are Pacific delicacies that thrive in the waters off of British Columbia, and have been an important part of the economy and eco system for hundreds of years.
In the late 19th century commercial fishing took off, and crab was among the most important species harvested and continues to be so. It is just now exported to over 100 countries as well as distributed locally! Because of the global demans, the Fisheries and Oceans department work to ensure that local seafood industries profit from commercial crabbing.
Crab harvesters use wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch the crabs. Traps are attached to lines and marked by floats on the surface, with each vessel using a unique colour pattern on their buoys in order to identify their traps.
The traps capture live crab by attracting them through an entrance to the centre of the trap where the bait is located, and once inside larger crabs all unable to escape - with all commercial traps having an escape hatch to allow smaller crabs and fish to get out. Once landed aboard, crabs are graded, and undersized, soft-shelled and female crab are returned to the ocean, and the big buttery ones are brought to us!
Cooking Dungeness Crab
Like many species of seafood, Dungeness Crab is best enjoyed fresh. However, you can still freeze crab to preserve it, you just should cook it first before freezing. There are two main methods of cooking that preserve the delicate buttery taste: boiling or steaming.
To steam: place a large enough steamer over a few inches of salted boiling water. Add the crab to the steamer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely before packaging it to freeze. Or eat fresh and enjoy!
To boil: boil water in a large enough pot, salt it heavily and add any other herbs and spices you wish, then add the crab and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely before packaging it up to freeze. Or eat fresh and enjoy!
And if you’re unsure about how to clean, crack, and shell a crab, check out our mini guide.
Halibut Fishing in BC
Pacific halibut are some of the largest fish and are native to the north Pacific, occurring in the northeast from the Bering Sea and Alaska to California, but are most abundant off the coasts of British Columbia. They have a flat, diamond-shaped body and can attain a length of over 8 feet and a width of over 5 feet.
The commercial fishing season usually spans from March to November and is closed the rest of the year when Pacific halibut spawn, with minimum size requirement to protect juvenile Pacific halibut.
Mild and sweet with large flakes and firm but tender texture, halibut lends itself to a variety of cooking methods from baking, grilling, steaming, and poaching, and holds up well with a variety of sauces and toppings.
Before cooking, be sure to wash the fish thoroughly under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Make sure not to overcook it - it can be easy to do so as halibut is prone to drying out quickly because the fish naturally does not contain much oil. If you are baking, broiling, or grilling the fish, be sure to keep it marinated or continually brushed with olive oil and/or butter to retain moisture. You will know if it is overcooked if it feels hard. Instead aim for a slightly firm texture where the flesh starts to slightly separate itnto flakes and turns from translucent to white. If it is still soft, it is not yet done.
Try some halibut for yourself! Just keep uncooked halibut for no longer than one to two days in the fridge, stored in the bottom or coldest part of your fridge.