Tag Archives: British Columbia

Okanagan First Nation fishery celebrates record return of sockeye salmon

An estimated 670,000 sockeye have entered the Columbia River system this summer on a nearly-1,000-kilometre upstream journey toward spawning grounds in creeks and rivers, according to fish biologists with the ONA. More than 80 per cent of those fish are destined for Canadian waters near Osoyoos, B.C., in the south Okanagan, said Richard Bussanich, the organization’s head fish biologist. “This is a great story,” Bussanich said. “We’ve got more fish than spawning habitat coming back.” In partnership with Canadian and U.S. agencies, First Nations in the Okanagan have worked to restore the migration channels and re-introduce sockeye to the region over the past two decades, each year expanding spawning territory further into the valleys’ creeks and rivers. >click to read< 11:47

B.C. fishermen fume as their Americans counterparts fish

Commercial salmon fishers and environmentalists are crying foul, for opposite reasons after U.S. fisheries officials let American fishers hit the water while the Canadian government kept their counterparts ashore. After several years of historically low runs, the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC), an international fisheries management organization, estimated last week that enough sockeye, about 4.4 million, would return to the Fraser River to support a commercial fishery. American fisheries managers adopted the commission’s estimate, opening a small commercial fishing window over the weekend. But in a rare disagreement, Canadian officials did not, citing concerns the run would be nearly one million fish smaller than predicted, and kept Canada’s waters closed. >click to read< 10:16

Concern for BC sockeye salmon as return estimates drop by millions – The Pacific Salmon Commission’s pre-season estimate of 9.8 million returning fish went down to 5.5 million Monday, prompting environmentalists and fishers alike to express concern. >click to read<

B.C. Commercial fishermen on tenterhooks

B.C. commercial fisherman, who had hoped for a green light today, now have to wait until next week for a go-ahead to fish for Fraser River sockeye, while American commercial fishermen are already catching sockeye. “They’re fishing on the American side, but we’re not fishing on the Canadian side,” said Mitch Dudoward, a commercial fisherman and spokesperson for the UFAWU-Unifor fishermen’s union. Returns so far appear to be healthy enough for a commercial opening this year, and fisherman had expected commercial openings to be announced today. But they now have to wait until Tuesday. >click to read< 9:16

Sunken fishing boat shifts into deeper water in Salish Sea leaking fuel in orca habitat

An update from the U.S. Coast Guard says the 15-metre F/V Aleutian Isle has shifted since it went down Saturday off Washington state, near San Juan Island, roughly 25 kilometres east of Victoria. The vessel, loaded with about 10,000 litres of diesel and oil, was originally resting in about 30 metres of water, but U.S. officials say it is now some 60 metres below the surface. The coast guard says the added depth presents more logistical challenges that the on-scene dive team is working to resolve. Divers are also trying to gather and remove a large fishing net that has floated free of the wreck and the Coast Guard update says officials are watching the area closely even though no marine mammals have been reported nearby. >click to read< 17:55

Excitement in B.C. Indigenous communities as salmon get past Fraser slide zone

Thousands of migrating sockeye and chinook salmon appear to be making it through a massive slide area on the Fraser River on their way to spawn in central British Columbia. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says 280,000 salmon have already been counted above the slide site north of Lillooet, contrasting greatly from three years ago when barely 100 salmon were counted. In 2019, a rock slide of about 110,000 cubic metres fell into the river canyon, creating an almost impassable barrier for migrating salmon. >click to read< 19:31

Commercial fishers and wild salmon advocates celebrate large returns to B.C. waters

Mitch Dudoward has worked in the salmon industry for more than 40 years and says fishing on the Skeena River in northwest B.C. has never been better. “This is the best season I can recall in my lifetime with the numbers we are catching,” said Dudoward, who recently completed a big sockeye haul aboard his gillnetter Irenda. Meanwhile, Bob Chamberlin, chairman of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, said thousands of pink salmon are in Central Coast rivers after years of minimal returns. The strong run comes two years after the closure of two open-net Atlantic salmon farms in the area. “We got them removed and two years later we went from 200 fish in the river to where we have several thousand to date. In our mind and knowledge that is a really clear indicator.” >click to read< 10:41

Prince Rupert fisherman frustrated by DFO salmon limits, despite millions of fish

Longtime marine fisherman Howard Gray is frustrated with the federal government’s management of the commercial sockeye harvest around Prince Rupert and afraid it will lead to two million dead fish that should have been caught in the ocean this year, he said on Aug. 3. Gray has been commercial fishing on the North Coast for more than 60 years, primarily harvesting salmon and herring. “A multi-million dollar travesty is happening as we speak. There’s going to be in excess of three million fish, sockeyes, going into the system, which is about two million more than there should be,” he said. Gray believes the rules that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced regarding the commercial sockeye fishery were not in line with the high number of fish returning this year. >click to read< 08:25

Strong sockeye salmon runs bode well for famed Fraser fishery

“The last bunch of years have just been nothing but doom and gloom when it comes to B.C. salmon,” said Granville-Island based fisher Steve Johansen, who just returned from “crazy” commercial fishing in Barkley Sound a week ago where sockeye returns were more than double Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates. On the Skeena River, a key B.C. salmon river, returns have been 50 per cent higher than estimates. “I think everything else (that has) happened this summer before the Fraser runs is just making everybody’s anticipation and excitement just up a couple more notches,” Johansen said. >click to read< 12:50

Trudeau launches expanded oceans protection plan, with aim to reach more regions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced new details about the federal government’s $3.5-billion plan to protect the oceans and boost coast guard facilities on the world’s longest national coastline. In its most recent budget, the government pledged to add $2 billion over nine years to the $1.5 billion already set aside for ocean protection. Speaking at a news conference on Bowen Island, B.C., Trudeau said the government had now launched an extended version of the Oceans Protection Plan. Initiatives already funded by the program include the opening of six coast guard stations in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, establishing an Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary in B.C., the restoration of coastal aquatic habitats, and the removal and disposal of hundreds of abandoned boats. >click to read< 15:56

Man whose boat was seized for illegal crab fishing in Burrard Inlet nets further $6,000 fine

Judge Lyndsay Smith handed the fine to Sammy Alvin-Raymond John Williams, 32, of Gold River, B.C., July 13, in North Vancouver provincial court. Smith found Williams guilty in November of several fishing offences including setting gear in Burrard Inlet during a closed time, fishing for Dungeness crab in waters during a closed time, fishing without a licence, and possessing crab in contravention of the Federal Fisheries Act. Fisheries officers netted three men on fisheries charges following a high-speed chase of a fishing boat in Burrard Inlet on the night of March 1, 2020. The trio on board the boat had been fishing at night in the inlet, with no navigation lights on, using unmarked crab traps attached to a line that they pulled up from the bottom of the harbour, including fishing in the path of the SeaBus, a Crown prosecutor said. >click to read< 11:58

Did Ottawa truly understand the impacts of closing most salmon fisheries on the Pacific coast?

Twenty-one years ago, I married into a fishing family. Soon after, we started Skipper Otto to help connect customers with locally sourced and sustainably harvested seafood. The spring is always the busiest time. There are boats to prepare for the season, fishing nets to repair, staff to hire and operations to launch. At the end of June 2021, when boats had already left the docks and were on the fishing grounds, the federal government announced the closure of 60 per cent of salmon fisheries on the Pacific coast. Specifically, these closures affected commercial salmon fisheries and First Nations communal commercial fisheries. Bernadette Jordan, then minister of fisheries and oceans, announced the closures to reduce pressure on salmon stocks. >click to read< 08:42

Captain Kenny Charles “Ken” Martin May 2, 1949 – June 17, 2022 of Bella Bella

To a lot of people, Ken was a fisherman, lovingly known as “The Captain.” But to others, he was Ken, the father, the husband, the friend. Ken was predeceased by his parents, Brian and Shirley (Leeman) Martin. He is survived by his loving wife, Theresa (nee Scanlan); their three children, At 21, Ken introduced the first fibreglass brine packer ever built. He named her the “Northern Princess,” built at Shearwater Marine (across the channel from Bella Bella). Ken went to work for Jack Elsey of Millbank Industries in 1970. It was the start of an outstanding career in the commercial fishing business. Meanwhile, a 21-year-old nurse from Toronto named Theresa Scanlan made the brave decision to begin her career at R.W. Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella. Ken took one look at her and knew he had found his true “Northern Princess.” This was the start of a 49-year journey. >click to read< 21:39

Are sea lions and seals eating too much of B.C.’s salmon? The answer may lead to a cull

An increasing number of the protected seals and sea lions (larger than seals, sea lions can walk) may be upsetting the balance of the British Columbia marine ecosystem. Now some First Nations are proposing a cull. “Environmentalists trying to stop traditional seal and sea lion hunts … are trying to starve out the Indians,” says Tom Sewid of the Kwakwak’wakw First Nation on northeastern Vancouver Island. “I won’t put up with it.” And as seals and sea lions have prospered, salmon have struggled. “The demise of the salmon runs in British Columbia is equivalent if not greater than the extinction of the great buffalo herds across the Great Plains” in the 1800s, says Sewid. > click to read < 09:01

The hunt for B.C.’s most notorious fisherman

Every year, officers in the DFO’s Pacific region collar a handful of serious rulebreakers, some more brazen than others. Scott Steer is in a class of his own, the most prolific poacher on the West Coast. He’s been busted for illegally catching just about every type of fish in the north Pacific: halibut, ling cod, sablefish, crab, prawns and more, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of quality catch over the years. He has been fined repeatedly, and when that didn’t work, the courts began throwing him in jail, while simultaneously slapping him with an escalating series of fishing prohibitions. When Sanderson’s crew nabbed him that night in Vancouver, Steer was already banned from so much as setting foot in a fishing boat until 2038. Big story, >click to read< 08:03

Canada ignored warnings of virus infecting farmed and wild salmon

Canada was warned in 2012 by its own scientists that a virus was infecting both farmed and wild salmon, but successive governments ignored the expert advice, saying for years that risks to salmon were low. Justin Trudeau’s government has said it will phase out open-pen industrial fish farms off the coast of British Columbia by 2025. But both his government and the previous Conservative government were in possession of a newly released report that linked large-scale farms and wild salmon to the highly contagious Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). In 2012, biologists with the department of fisheries and oceans investigated the presence of the virus, which has been found in both farmed and wild salmon. but successive governments ignored the expert advice, saying for years that risks to salmon were low. >click to read< 11:48

DFO enacts new regulations aimed at depleted fish stocks

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has enacted new regulations that bind its minister to rebuilding Canada’s depleted fish stocks and ensuring healthy ones stay that way, a move that comes weeks after it closed down two East Coast fisheries in the name of sustainability. The regulations are the teeth behind amendments to the Fisheries Act passed in 2019 and have been closely watched by the commercial fishing industry and environmentalists. The changes were posted Wednesday in the Canada Gazette. It identified 30 major fish stocks that will require a rebuilding plan,,,  The minister for the department will have up to three years to produce a rebuilding plan once the stock has hit the limit reference point. >click to read< 16:32

B.C. Ferries crew rescue fishermen from burning boat near Prince Rupert

Two men were rescued early Sunday morning by a passing B.C. Ferries vessel after their fishing boat caught fire in Arthur Passage near Prince Rupert. Arnie Nagy, a passenger on the ferry sailing from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, was fast asleep when he was awoken by the vessel suddenly coming to a stop around 5 a.m. “A crew member come up to me and he says ‘come take a look at this … There’s a fire out there,'” said Nagy. In the distance, something was glowing orange. As a lifelong fisherman, Nagy says he could tell it was a small fishing boat. The people on board the fishing boat — two men — launched a flare. >click to read< 18:05

B.C.’s arguably most famous fishing vessel is restored following years of hard work

The BCP45 turns 95 this year. Fifty years ago, the ship first rose to fame after being featured on the five-dollar bill. Now it’s on display at the Maritime Heritage Museum in Campbell River, after years of restoration work. Video, >click to watch< A five-dollar bill’s big fish story – It was 1951, and eager for a life at sea, a 14-year-old boy signed on as a cook aboard his uncle’s fishing boat, the BCP45. His name was Allen (Ollie) Chickite, and he was from the We Wai Kai Nation of Quadra Island. George Hunter was one of Canada’s least known yet most published photographers. He is considered one of the greatest chroniclers of post-Second World War Canada. photos, >click to read< 11:30

Dismal B.C. herring season sparks renewed calls for moratorium

Three days after setting his nets out in the Strait of Georgia between B.C.’s mainland and Vancouver Island, Josh Young headed back home to Pender Harbour. The herring he was expecting to catch were nowhere to be found. “I will be honest… the stocks I saw this year weren’t the healthiest year I’ve ever seen,” Young said. “We didn’t catch our entire quota.” Young wasn’t alone. When the season opened March 3 for boats equipped with seine nets, they scooped up their fill of the silver foot-long fish in 48 hours. By the time Young and hundreds of others using gillnets arrived on March 5, the fish seemed to have disappeared. “It was a different year,” Young said stoically. >click to read< 16:31

Reallocation: Fed changes to BC crab fishery could bankrupt some commercial fishermen

Commercial crab fishermen in British Columbia fear that changes to the way they can fish for Dungeness crab off the west coast of Vancouver Island could push some small, family operations out of business. This year however, crab fishermen like Jason Voong, 33, may not be able to harvest enough crabs to stay in business following changes announced by the federal government in December to reallocate half of the licenses available in the area to local First Nations.  “I fully support, and the fishers support reconciliation, it’s just a process that’s wrong right now the way DFO has treated the commercial fleet and the five nations.” >click to read< 09:41

The story of how a Black man pioneered the salmon canning industry in British Columbia in the 1870s

Located on an island on the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada, is the Deas Island Regional Park What many do not know is that the park took its name from John Sullivan Deas, a founder of the salmon canning industry in British Columbia. More than 140 years ago, the island was the site of Deas’ cannery. A tinsmith by trade, Deas is believed to have pioneered the salmon canning industry in British Columbia, becoming the leading canner on the Fraser River in the 1870s. Born in 1838 in South Carolina among some groups of Black people freed from slavery, Deas was a trained tinsmith by the time he was in his teens. Historians have described the 1870s also as the Salmon Rush as anyone with ample capital could open a cannery. Deas knew how to make cans, so salmon canning was an ideal business idea. >click to read< 15:30

B.C. groups call on Alaska to halt interception of Canadian salmon

In a letter addressed to Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, four salmon conservation groups presented data indicating that in 2021 more than 650,000 Canadian-origin sockeye salmon were caught in the waters of southeast Alaska. That is six times the 110,000 sockeye B.C. commercial fishers caught last year. “We’re just talking about the fish we know that are getting killed up there,” said Greg Taylor, a longtime consultant with commercial and First Nations fisheries. B.C. salmon populations have plummeted to record lows in recent years. In response, the federal government closed 60 per cent of B.C.’s commercial salmon harvest in June 2021 and announced a fishing licence buy-back program under its $647-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative. The result for B.C., says Taylor: “It makes us a spawning ground for Alaska.” >click to read< 13:12

British Columbia: Hooked on halibut: For many commercial fishers, it’s a family affair

The commercial halibut season is underway along the coast of British Columbia and boats are already starting to deliver the flat fish to dinner plates. From now until early December, the B.C. halibut fleet will haul in an estimated 5.7 million pounds of halibut. The Americans will take the lion’s share of this year’s ­41-million-pound total allowable catch, nearly 80%, because their territory stretches over California, Oregon, Washington and all of Alaska to the tip of the Aleutian Islands and covers nine of the 10 designated halibut-fishing areas along the Pacific Coast. Tiare Boyes and Cheri Hansen weigh in on what it’s like to work on the water during the halibut fishing season. Photos, >click to read< 11:14

Indigenous rights-based changes to Tofino crab fishery weigh heavily on family-run businesses

Recent changes to trap limits have Dungeness crab fishers in Tofino fearing for their livelihoods. When Dungeness season opens on April 1, commercial crab fishers in Area E (Tofino) must re-allocate 50 per cent of their inside trap allocation and 25 per cent of their offshore trap allocation to five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. DFO is required to give priority to the Nuu-chah-nulth under an order from the British Columbia Court of Appeal. DFO announced the changes to Area E Tofino harvesters before even consulting with the five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. Jason Voong, president of the B.C. Crab Fishermen’s Association and second-generation Area E Tofino crab harvester, says the changes are essentially putting the cost of the court ruling on the backs of small, family-owned businesses. >click to read< 17:08

Ottawa leaving West Coast fishing sector to flounder after salmon closures

The West Coast fishing sector is being hung out to dry and deserves a just transition like other climate-affected industries after the federal government put in widespread closures to the salmon fishery last year, the fish harvesters union says. Boat captains, crews, and shore workers are suffering dire economic hardship with zero emergency or transitional supports after the ministry of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) closed 79 salmon fisheries last June, said James Lawson, president of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union. >click to read< 14:15

Pioneer Boatworks owners moving on after 35 years in Ucluelet

A revered local couple is voyaging into the relaxing and well-deserved waters of retirement. Bonnie Gurney and Eric Caswell have sold their iconic Pioneer Boatworks shipyard and supply store, which they operated for over 35 years in Ucluelet. “The only place we could afford was a shipyard in Ucluelet,” Gurney said. “It was just a leap of faith.” She added that Ucluelet was “a lot smaller” at the time and “really undeveloped” which suited them just fine as they got to work learning the ins and outs of running a shipyard, which they’d never done. Caswell focused on the shipyard side of the business, performing annual vessel as well as repairs, while Gurney looked after the store, which offers fishing gear, hardware, raingear and a bevy of other West Coast necessities. >click to read< 13:41

Is this your boat? B.C. man looks to solve island mystery

Brad Powell took to social media to try and solve the mystery of who the boat belonged to after he found it on his late father’s property. “We don’t know anything about it, somebody must of brought it onto the property,” he says. “Somebody must of brought it on without my dad’s knowledge, which is pretty unlikely, or with his knowledge and he just didn’t tell anyone.” The boat is made of wood even though it might appear like aluminum in photographs. “If you look at the picture, that’s the Washington state identifier on the front there,” he says. “At some point, it was a Washington. Crab boat seems to be the consensus.” Video, >click to read< 12:18

‘Once in a millennium’ rogue wave recorded off Ucluelet

A giant wave off Ucluelet in 2020 is the most extreme rogue wave ever recorded, says a group of Victoria scientists. The 17.6-metre swell. as high as a four-story building, was recorded with sensor buoys at Amphitrite Bank, about seven kilometers off Ucluelet. The wave recorded by MarineLabs off Ucluelet was 17.6 metres in a sea state with wave heights of six metres, so it was nearly three times the size of the waves around it. Video, >click to read< 16:15

British Columbia: Delta Lifeboat seeks funding support from community

In addition to saving lives, the Delta Lifeboat, which is part of the Canadian Lifeboat Institute, also offers volunteer support and assistance to Delta’s emergency services, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, fishermen, commercial shipping and recreational boaters in the waters surrounding Delta. “Because of the global pandemic, linked with the provincial state of emergency and rising costs, we’ve not been able to hold any of our normal fundraising events. Because things like boat shows, and dinners and social gatherings where we normally raise our money, we haven’t been able to do that,” >click to read< 11:14

B.C. fishers celebrate DFO announcement allowing spot prawn ‘tubbing’ to continue

The announcement Monday by Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray is an about face from an announcement less than a year ago when DFO served notice it was making tubbing illegal. “This is huge,” said Mike Atkins, executive director of the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association. For decades, the celebrated B.C. fishery has relied on small boat fishers freezing just-caught spot prawns in tubs to preserve them for transport to local markets. Instead of outlawing the practice, the new 2023 regulations will limit the packaged volume of tubbed prawns to 710 millilitres or less. It will also require that all packaging material be transparent.  >click to read< 08:26