Tag Archives: British Columbia

New research suggests 70% decline in diversity of B.C. sockeye salmon stock in past century

There are at least 13 genetically different sockeye salmon that spawn in the rivers or tributaries of the Skeena River watershed and that has not changed in 100 years, the study found. However Price and co-author John Reynolds show that the vast majority of sockeye salmon now returning to the Skeena River to spawn, some 90 per cent, are of one type that originates in the Babine River, a tributary of the Skeena River. Price says the   predominant strain of sockeye in the Skeena River is wild, meaning fish that were not born in a hatchery or in a human controlled spawning channel, which could affect the fish’s ability to thrive as climate change and other pressures on the fish progress. >Click to read<  Loss of Sockeye Diversity Threatens Skeena Salmon, Study Finds – A century ago, the Babine accounted for 68 per cent of all wild sockeye returning to the Skeena, according to the study. At the time, gillnetting on the coast favored larger fish,,, photos, >click to read< 16:24

Canada launches new aircraft to improve conservation and ocean protection

Fishery officers require state of the art aerial surveillance equipment to continue the important work they conduct protecting Canada’s marine resources, ensuring compliance with fisheries management measures and enforcing the Fisheries Act from coast to coast to coast. In 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced a five-year, $128 million contract with PAL Aerospace-located in St. John’s, to deliver a new fleet of four aerial surveillance aircrafts, including two long-range maritime patrol aircrafts. When operational, the planes will fly out of three bases of operation: St. John’s, Newfoundland and LabradorHalifax, Nova Scotia; and a brand new facility in Campbell River, British Columbia. >click to read< 15:22

Canada’s sockeye salmon find their way home again after 50 years

For the first time in over 50 years, spawning sockeye salmon will return to Okanagan Lake in British Columbia,,, A fish ladder, left inoperable after the Penticton Dam was built in the 1950s, has been restored by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. A crane was used to remove a wooden gate blocking off the narrow concrete passage, opening the way for fish to get through.  “To watch that gate go up, and to know that fish can finally return to their historic grounds, was a tearful moment,” she said. McFayden is a member of the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative (ORRI) and the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance. >click to read< 07:55

At two-day virtual conference, B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

The United Fishermen And Allied Workers’ Union (UFAWU-Unifor) and active fishermen’s associations convened the conference, Future of BC Commercial Salmon Fishing,,,, The issues are complex and sometimes controversial. Allocation of stocks with recreational and First Nations fisheries, and access to healthy runs are priority issues, but interwoven are challenges with policy and governance that are not meeting the economic-development needs of fishing communities, a licensing regime established in the 1990s that’s consolidated power into the hands of corporations and so-called “armchair fishermen”, and an explosion in pinniped predation rates on juvenile salmon, to name a few. >click to read< 07:49

Scientists worry B.C. hatchery fish threatening endangered wild chinook

More chinook salmon populations have landed on the endangered species list in B.C.,, With many salmon runs experiencing the lowest returns on record, there has been mounting public pressure for the federal government to step up hatchery production through the Salmonid Enhancement Program. But conservation groups and scientists are sounding the alarm on the long-term consequences of high-volume hatcheries. >click to read< 09:38

This Year May Decide the Fate of BC’s Wild Salmon – Feds to phase out all Discovery Islands fish farms in 2022

Three decisions may well seal the fate of wild Pacific salmon along the coast of British Columbia this year. The first was the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ decision to essentially legalize high sea lice infestations on fish farms for periods of time last spring. The second was DFO’s calculated response to the Cohen Commission’s recommendations that fish farming must end by Sept. 30, 2020 in the Discovery Islands unless the federal fisheries minister can show that they cause less than minimal risk to migrating juvenile Fraser River sockeye salmon. Minister Bernadette Jordan said that there was no real risk. The third decision is said to be imminent. >click to read< 19:07

Feds to phase out all Discovery Islands fish farms in 2022 – The federal government says it will phase out all fish farms in B.C.’s Discovery Islands by June 2022. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says no new fish of any size may be introduced into the region from now until the phase-out date. Existing salmon farms can continue to operate in the island archipelago, located between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, until June 30, 2022. After that date they must be free of fish and closed down. >click to read< , Government of Canada moves to phase out salmon farming licences in Discovery Islands following consultations with First Nations – DFO press release, >click to read<

Harbour seals prime suspect in decline of steelhead populations in Thompson watershed

Rob Bison, a fish stock biologist, gave a live-streamed presentation on factors that could be contributing to the steelhead’s decline,,, The fish populations in the two rivers have been declining over the last 30-40 years, but it’s likely not their stream habitats that have led to the decline, he said. The drastic decline in steelhead appears to happen when the fish reach inshore waters and are eaten by harbour seals,,, Bison estimated that by reducing seal populations, steelhead populations could increase by 486%. >click to read<  13:03

Richmond herring sale for kids with cancer next week

Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer (FHKWC) is hosting their 10th annual herring sale to benefit the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation on Dec. 5. Every year, FHKWC hosts a herring sale to raise funds towards purchasing books, musical instruments, laptops, games and other gifts to make the experience of kids receiving cancer treatment more comfortable. >click to read< 15:32

Before Fiberglas – British Columbia & Wahl Boatyard

In the early 1900’s with the pushing through of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway from Edmonton to Prince Rupert, the Canadian government promoted land grants and settlements up the coast of British Columbia. Many Scandinavians took advantage of the opportunity and moved their families to Canada’s west coast. Fishing and logging were the staples of the economic engine at the time, and boats were needed for both as well as for transportation between coastal communities. Many of these settlers chose to build their own boats. In the early 1920’s, Ed Wahl moved his family from Norway and settled in Port Essington, a small community on the west coast situated due west of Edmonton and south of Prince Rupert, near the mouth of the Skeena River. photos, links, >click to read< 10:38

B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks due to pandemic caused market disruptions

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) said the closure, normally scheduled for Nov. 15, will now fall on Dec. 7 for the 2020 season. All groundfish hook-and-line harvesters wanting to participate in the extended halibut season will need to have the conditions of their licence amended prior to fishing past the original November closure. Additional sector-specific instructions on how to request the amendment will be forthcoming,, Meanwhile, costs to harvest, process and ship products have escalated as the sector tries to meet COVID-19 safety protocols. >click to read< 20:53

What Would a British Columbia Seal and Sea Lion Cull Actually Entail?

Cast an eye upon Canada’s Pacific coast and it shouldn’t take long to spot its most ubiquitous marine mammal, the harbor seal. At least 100,000 are thought to occupy the coves and nearshore waters along British Columbia’s coast. You may view seals with wonder, as evidence of a productive marine ecosystem on the doorstep of civilization. Or, just as easily, as a ravenous predator gobbling up the same fish populations sought by humans. Enter a divisive proposal to cull the seals and sea lions. Enough time has been spent studying the species’ impact on fish stocks, advocates of the cull say: it’s time to cut them back. >click to read< 11:42

B.C. harvests 196,000 tonnes of fish a year. Most of it is exported and that’s a problem

There are about 4,000 fish harvesters scattered across the province who harvested about 196,000 tonnes of wild seafood in 2018, worth $476 million, everything from salmon to crab to geoducks. Most of that seafood didn’t stay in Canada. The province exports all but about 15 per cent of its annual catch each year and, like most of Canada, imports between 70 and 90 per cent of the seafood British Columbians eat, according to federal data. The licensing policies that give fish harvesters the right to fish the B.C. coast have privatized access to seafood and put them on the open market. >click to read< 07:50

Fisheries officials seize 316 Canadian crab traps set in U.S. water, along with four vessels as part of annual sting

“You have people who push the envelope because it may be worth it for them to do that if they don’t get caught, because there’s money in crab — there’s good money in crab,” he said. “Sometimes getting caught and getting fines may be the price of doing business.” Demsky estimates each set of gear —  including a trap, float, ropes and radio frequency ID chip  —  would cost about $500 to replace. DFO will seek the forfeiture of all of them, and the courts will decide whether the fishers will face fines, the loss of their fishing license or vessels. The fines are often several thousand dollars, but can to go a maximum of $500,000 for a first-time offender, according to Demsky. >click to read< 08:10

Ronald Sparrow, defendant in major Indigenous rights case, has died

Ronald (Bud) Sparrow, a major figure for B.C. First Nations who was a defendant in a Supreme Court case that defined Indigenous fishing rights in Canada, has died. The Musqueam Nation said in a written statement that Sparrow passed away on Sept. 14, and described him as “a quiet, determined and proud member of Musqueam.” “As a skilled and accomplished commercial fisher, he travelled up and down the west coast of B.C. to provide for his family and community,” the statement read in part. Sparrow was the defendant in the renowned “Sparrow Case,” which was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1990. >click to read< 11:17

Japanese Canadian fishermen and their families are part of Richmond’s enduring and rich maritime history.

Growing up next to Brittania shipyards in an enclave of cannery homes owned by B.C. Packers was a “Huck Finn-ish existence,” said Higo, 71, who offered Postmedia a little storytelling of his own in support of the event on Sunday. Higo, the son of a fisherman, grew up riding his bike along a boardwalk that ran from No. 2 road all the way to Steveston, and cutting through the shipyards, playing on the wharfs, clambering over seiner nets laid out to dry and watching fish being unloaded. “This was before WorkSafeBC regulations,” said Higo. “The area was one big playground for children.” Higo’s father Frank was a fisherman, who trolled for Coho and spring salmon in Ucluelet and the San Juan Straits.“It was tradition for the sons to fishing with their fathers, but my father wanted a different life for my brother and I,”,, >click to read< 11:05

Sockeye Collapse: First Nations call for halt to B.C. salmon fishery on the Fraser River

First Nations leaders in British Columbia are calling for an emergency order from the federal government to close the sockeye salmon fishery on the Fraser River and declare it exhausted. “Without a doubt, it’s collapsed,” said Robert Phillips, an executive with the First Nations Summit and First Nations Leadership Council of B.C., in an interview with Global News on Wednesday. In an Aug. 14 report, the Pacific Salmon Commission projected a record low return this year, with just 283,000 salmon expected to make it to spawning grounds. It’s a less than a third of a projection in July, when as many as 940,000, >click tp read< 19:11

F/V Arctic Fox II remembered as ‘huge part’ of Gibson’s fishing community

As the fishing community comes to terms with the losses, a former owner remembers The Arctic Fox II’s ties to Gibsons fishing culture. It began with a cod war between England and Iceland in the 1970s. At the time Ivan Tentchoff and his wife were running an environmental summer camp. They gave children a chance to explore coastal waters from Powell River to Alaska onboard the Arctic Loon and the Arctic Fox. They were on the hunt for a larger boat to make bigger crossings. That’s how Tentchoff, now 91, ended up in the Scottish fishing town of Fraserburgh. That’s where he struck gold. >click to read< 12:00

Five B.C. First Nations say salmon decision shows systemic racism at DFO

The five Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations are upset that Ottawa decided to give a surplus allocation of salmon — which arose this year due to reduced recreational fishing during the COVID-19 pandemic — to commercial fishers rather than to the First Nations. Clifford Atleo, lead negotiator for one of the nations who is also called Wickaninnish, says he feels sports and commercial troll fishers are given more rights to fish in the waters off the west coast of Vancouver. He says the latest decision to shut First Nations fishers out of an opportunity to catch more chinook salmon this year shows systemic racism is “alive and well” within the federal fisheries department. >click to read< 08:52

Alaska and B.C.’s salmon runs expected to be worst ever recorded

Salmon returns on the west coast look bleak this year. Alaska’s salmon returns have been so poor that some communities already are claiming fishery disasters. The socket salmon run on B.C.’s Fraser River is expected to be the worst ever recorded,, in Alaska, the Cordova City Council passed a resolution last week, asking the state to declare disasters for both the 2018 Copper River sockeye and chinook salmon runs and the 2020 sockeye, chum and chinook runs at the Copper River and Prince William Sound,, The Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) says this year may turn out to be the worst for sockeye salmon in the Fraser River since tracking began in 1893, >click to read< 12:56

2 confirmed dead, one rescued after fishing boat sinks off Vancouver Island

Two men are dead and another man has been rescued after their fishing boat sank off Vancouver Island Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon, the B.C. Coroners Service confirmed it was investigating at least one death in the incident. The coroner confirmed a second body had been recovered late Tuesday evening. “Both bodies were flown to Victoria where a coroner took jurisdiction of investigations of two deaths, both involving Canadians,” said B.C. Coroners Service spokesperson Andy Watson. >click to read< 07:45

Three generations of the Hamada family have fished British Columbia’s coast. Will the latest outlive the salmon they seek?

The Hamadas tell me this story on a November night in 2019 in their one-story home built by Satoshi, tucked away in the heart of Richmond, a city that borders Vancouver. They moved into the house five months after Dereck was born. Huddled around a kitchen table better suited for two people, Satoshi, Dereck, June, and I peer over fishing catch receipts, dated newspaper clippings, and black-and-white photographs scattered across the tabletop, illuminated by bright-white kitchen lights overhead. Our conversation was supposed to have happened at sea aboard the Three generations, the family boat built by Satoshi in 1967. Dereck and Satoshi had invited me to join them on a chum fishing trip to mark Satoshi’s 66 years of fishing on the BC coast. Instead, we have gathered indoors, to look back on 2019, the year that everything changed. >click to read< 10:34

Fraser River sockeye fishery to stay closed because of concerns about the stocks

The department said in a notice Tuesday that Fraser River sockeye forecasts are “highly uncertain” at this time. Fraser River sockeye returns from 2015 and 2016 were forecast at 941,000 in total. Last year, the returns of 485,900 were the lowest since record keeping began in 1893. The other major challenge for this year’s sockeye — along with chinook, coho, and steelhead — is that they have to get through the site of the November 2018 Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River upstream of Lillooet. Despite installing infrastructure to help salmon, that area will “continue to be an impediment,” >click to read< 14:56

8 more wild salmon restoration projects to receive funding in B.C.

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan addressed the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Tuesday, saying climate change and increasing demand for seafood products has put unprecedented pressure on Pacific wild salmon. The latest projects will receive about $10.5 million from the joint federal and provincial fund established in 2018 to help the recovery of stocks in steep decline.,,, “Speaking to British Columbians, I want to assure you that our government is moving ahead with the transition from open-net pens,” she said, adding Ottawa will develop a comprehensive process to ensure all voices are heard in the decision-making process. >click to read< 10:24

“Why can’t I buy fresh, local fish?” – Locally caught fish are scarce in fishing towns, an irony one Sointula family is working to change

It’s a new way of doing business for Jordan Belveal, a fourth-generation fisherman. Instead of selling to wholesalers, who almost always export the catch, Belveal and his family are marketing their catch directly to consumers in a new community supported fishery venture called Island Wild Seafoods. It could be an answer to the perpetual, “Why can’t I buy fresh, local fish?” question, repeated in fishing towns all over Vancouver Island. “So many people approach us looking to buy seafood, complaining that they just can’t find halibut, or lingcod or spot prawns,, With each inquiry of where to buy fresh fish, the Belveals thought more about selling it direct. >click to read< 09:17

Shrimper Steve, the Spot Prawn King

Before the mid-2000s, when the first Spot Prawn Festival took place in Vancouver and The 100-Mile Diet was published, nearly all of B.C.’s spot prawns were sent overseas. The shellfish were brand new to most consumers, explains Steve Johansen, a fisherman with Organic Ocean who sold 100-Mile-Diet author J.B. MacKinnon his first spot prawns and launched the festival with Vancouver chef Rob Clark in 2007. “Even people who lived in B.C. all their lives didn’t know what a spot prawn was, and the other half of those people thought tiger prawns were from B.C., whereas they’re all raised in Southeast Asia.” Spot prawns are the largest of seven commercially harvested shrimp species in British Columbia. >click to read< 09:32

Opinion: The politically corrupt management of the wild salmon resource in Canada is a sinking ship

Salmon are forest creatures. When forest structures are in decline, creatures of the forest including wild salmon are in decline. When the forest is gone, wild salmon creatures of the forest are gone. When wild salmon are gone, creatures of the fishing industry are gone. When the fishing industry is gone, viability in coastal communities and dependent businesses are gone. When coastal viability structures are gone, coastal people are caught within a downward financial collapse. Younger people are forced to move from home-based coastal areas in search of viable employment. What happened?  by Tom Gray, >click to read< 09:25

Government of Canada takes action to address threats to struggling Fraser River Chinook

Today, (June 19, 2020) Fisheries and Oceans Canada is releasing 2020 Fisheries management measures that will support the recovery of at-risk Fraser River Chinook populations, as well as protect the jobs and communities that depend on Chinook. The 2020 measures include additional restrictions to strengthen conservation as well as the flexibility needed where impacts to stocks of concern will be very low. These measures were developed following consultation with Indigenous communities, recreational and commercial fishing organizations, and environmental organizations. These measures are one component of a larger strategy intended to place at-risk Pacific salmon populations on a path towards sustainability. >click to read< 11:49

Big Bar Landslide: 99% of early Stuart sockeye, 89% of early Fraser River chinook salmon runs were lost

The officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada told a Commons committee that 99 per cent of early Stuart and 89 per cent of early chinook salmon were lost. Rebecca Reid, the department’s regional director for the Pacific region, said salmon survival improved later in the summer when work started to transport fish past the slide, helping them reach their spawning grounds. It’s believed the massive landslide north of Lillooet, B.C., occurred in late October or early November 2018, but it wasn’t discovered until last June after fish had already begun arriving. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan told the committee the volume of the slide was equivalent to a building 33 storeys high by 17 storeys wide. >click to read< 13:06

Big Bar Landslide: Concern over delays, contract cost as salmon populations face possible extinction

The federal NDP critic for fisheries is calling for more oversight of the cleanup project at B.C.’s Big Bar landslide following news of tripling contract costs and worker safety concerns. Construction giant Peter Kiewit Sons’ contract to clear the slide from the Fraser River was awarded in December at $17.6 million, but has since been amended more than a dozen times and is now worth more than $52.5 million. Earlier this month, three rocks fell unexpectedly from a slope above where crews have been working. It happened overnight and no one was hurt, but WorkSafeBC is now investigating. The Big Bar landslide dumped 75,000 cubic metres of rock into the Fraser in a remote area north of Lillooet some time in late 2018, but it wasn’t reported until June 2019. The landslide completely blocked migration routes for several salmon runs,,, >click to read< 12:14

British Columbia: Steveston-based fisher says industry faces uncertain future amid Coronavirus

Some B.C. fishers may be forced out of the industry if they aren’t able to earn enough income this year, according to Steveston-based fisherman Justin Taylor. As domestic and foreign demand fell dramatically in the wake of COVID-19, processing plants, which fishers directly supply, haven’t been able to sell to the restaurants and hotels that normally make up the bulk of the seafood market. As a result, prices are uncertain, and lower. “This is going to be a survival year for me and my crew, for sure,” he said. “When you’re facing 40 to 50 per cent price reductions, you really don’t know after expenses if there’s going to be much money actually pocketed…There’s a real risk of not making any money.” >click to read< 22:08