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Quiet start to Steveston spot prawn season

... but long lines are anticipated tomorrow

Steveston's Fisherman's Wharf was quiet early Tuesday morning, with the occasional patron approaching the docks with a bucket in hand.

Today is the first day of dock sales for the Steveston spot prawn festival and what is usually one of Steveston's biggest events is getting off to a slow start.

One of the first customers on the docks this morning was Victor Chow, who arrived just after 8 a.m. to buy his first prawns of the season.

The Richmond resident returns to the docks every year to savour the short spot prawn season just for one reason.

"I love it," said Chow.

Chow, a purist, enjoys steaming the prawns and eating them without any condiments.

He told the Richmond News he came early to beat the line, and although there wasn't one to beat, he expects the docks to get busier as the day goes on.

According to Brianna Stylianou, manager at Steveston Spot Prawns & Seafood, lines for spot prawns during the first days of the season usually start as early as 7:30 a.m. and the wait time can take up to an hour.

"Typically in the beginning of the season... since everyone is just starting to fish, the prawns are actually a lot larger in size and people just want to be the first one with that Instagram photo," she said.

However, this year's season is a little different than usual as it's starting on a weekday rather than the weekend, and it's also kicking off after Mother's Day weekend rather than before.

Stylianou told the News that the opening date of the season is determined by the Department of Fisheries, which conducts a series of tests to decide when the fishery should open.

"It's a very regulated fishery, so very strict rules," she said, adding that she doesn't think the climate was a factor in the decision.

Steveston Spot Prawns & Seafood was one of the three boats at the docks this morning, but it had opted to advertise its opening date as tomorrow due to uncertainties surrounding its supply for today.

"It's very unsure how much poundage each boat usually has the day after opening day because there's not much time to pull our traps back out of the water, so today is always a very small quantity," explained Stylianou, who added that pre-orders for tomorrow were sold out "within minutes."

"Tomorrow, we will have a full supply of prawns."

Although the docks were quiet this morning, Stylianou anticipates more boats to show up later in the afternoon. She also thinks it will get a lot busier tomorrow.

"Today's kind of the secret first day. But tomorrow, we are anticipating very long lineups. Lots of people will be coming down, there will be multiple boats here selling prawns," she said.

"It's going to be busy."