Commercial fishing with traps is a sustainable and targeted type of harvest method. Trap gear works by attaching baited traps to a groundline and setting it along the ocean floor. The bait will lure the target species into the trap. Weighted groundlines are equipped with floating buoys at each end to serve as an identifier, which allows harvesters to locate and retrieve their traps. Commercial traps are specifically designed to catch target species and reduce the harvest of undersized species or bycatch. In BC, Spot Prawns, Dungeness Crabs, and Sablefish are sustainably harvested using trap gear. The overall size of the traps and the mesh material will vary depending on the target fishery.

In BC, commercial traps are equipped with biodegradable devices which allow the trap to open freely after the cord disintegrates. If the traps are lost, this device prevents the traps from ghost fishing. The traps used to harvest Spot Prawns are smaller than traps used to catch Sablefish or Crab. Spot Prawn traps are made of rope, and Prawns will enter the baited trap through the small mesh holes. In comparison, Dungeness Crab traps are made with metal wire to ensure that the crabs do not snap the rope and escape. Sablefish traps are the largest commercial traps, and they have a steel frame covered with a single piece of nylon netting. Sablefish are attracted to the bait and enter through the tunnel. The fishing locations and depths are drastically different for all three trap fisheries as well. There are some areas along the coast of BC that are closed to trap fishing and other bottom contact fisheries to protect unique benthic ecosystems such as coral and sponge reefs.

The Spot Prawn traps are set in shallow rocky habitats. The majority of Spot Prawns are harvested between the waters of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Prawn harvesters have a limited number of 300 traps to ensure sustainability. During the short six-week season, Prawn traps are left to soak for 24 hours before being hauled. Traps can only be hauled once per day between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm. Any undersized prawns, by-catch, and spawning female prawns caught in the trap must be returned to the water alive. Traps are baited with fish meal or small oily fish such as Herring or Sardines to attract Spot Prawns.

See more about the Spot Prawn fishery. 

Sablefish are found deep in the open ocean. Traps are set at depths of up to 825 metres. Weighted groundlines are equipped with around 60 to 80 traps spread 150 feet apart. Sablefish traps can be left on the ocean floor for a maximum of four days before being hauled. Any bycatch or undersized Sablefish (under the size 55 cm in length) incidentally caught in the trap must be returned to the ocean live.

See more about the Sablefish fishery. 

Dungeness Crabs traps are made with wire to prevent the crabs from escaping. The Dungeness Crab fishery is divided into seven crab management areas, each area has specific management rules. These regulations include restrictions on the size, gender, and hardness of the shell. Each fishing area also has specific seasonal closures, the number of traps, requirements for gear marking, gear size, restrictions on daily fishing time, and haul limits.

See more about the Dungeness Crab fishery.