Tag Archives: British Columbia

“The industry needs immediate relief,” – B.C. fishermen say Ottawa has cast them adrift

The flotilla of commercial fishing boats was to converge on False Creek harbour to try to raise public awareness about their plight, but winds prevented most boats from getting there. Those who did make it to False Creek said their livelihoods have been threatened by a fiat issued by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan that closed about 60% of the fishery to commercial fishermen. “At the swipe of a pen, the minister took all these fisheries off the table and eliminated the income for all these fishermen,” said Andy Olson, executive director of the Native Fishing Association. “It was clearly politically motivated. >click to read< 10:48

B.C. fish harvesters protest salmon fisheries closures

The Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Association addressed the media near Vancouver’s Granville Island on Sep. 15. The organization is upset over DFO’s salmon closures at the end of June. According to Bernadette Jordan, the move was made as “an initial step towards longer term reductions in fishing pressure on stocks of conservation concern.” DFO’s Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan will likely reduce B.C.’s commercial harvest by 60 per cent this year. Commercial fisher James Lawson says “I started behind almost $70,000 and at the last second I found out I’m not going to be able to fish; so that’s not a great position to be in and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.” Video, >click to read< 19:14

Here’s what fish look like under the Squamish River and its tributaries

For several years, Fernando Lessa has been dipping his camera into the Squamish River and its tributaries to capture fish. The professional photographer creates stunning underwater images of salmon that make viewers feel like they are swimming alongside the fish. He began capturing these pictures in the Squamish Valley in 2017. He will walk the length of the river looking for unique images to jump in front of his lens,,, 14 photos, >click to read< 10:34

Appeal and application process frustrates – Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program extended

The appeal deadline for the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program has been extended by DFO to Oct.1 from Sept.15 following months of delays and online application issues. The appeal process has been plagued by an “online application nightmare” and a “communication cluster,” Problems included multiple vague error messages prompting harvesters to call Service Canada for help. The error messages numbered seven, 10 and 12, offered no definition. This left many harvesters clueless,,, >click to read< 14:20

Illegal fishing nets seized on Fraser River by DFO

Fishery officer Mike Fraser, DFO detachment commander for Fraser East, Conservation and Protection (C&P), said right now there are 16 active investigations underway into illegal fishing. About 160 of the seized illegal gillnets came from the Lower Fraser, from the mouth of the river, to just past Yale. “We’ve been getting eight to 10 nets a week,” Despite what they described as “high compliance,” from area First Nations, DFO said it has received “an increase in public reports” of illegal fishing in a few areas, as well as illegal fish sales. “As a result, we are increasing our enforcement activities, particularly at night.” >click to read< 13:32

Fish Harvesters Benefit Program open for 2nd phase

Fish harvesters in the Northcoast and Haida Gwaii can now apply for the second phase of benefit payments under the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant program, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans announced, on Aug. 5. This program helps eligible self-employed fish harvesters, who were not eligible for other financial relief programs, access critical support in dealing with the financial burdens of COVID-19. More than 18,000 fishers and families have accessed $130 million through the program in all provinces across Canada since its May 2020 inception. This includes self-employed commercial and freshwater fish harvesters, Indigenous harvesters with communal commercial fishing licences designated by their communities, and sharepersons crew who had less than their usual income in 2020. >click to read< 07:53

A virus that flourishes in fish farms is now threatening wild populations.

Wild salmon in British Columbia are in trouble. According to one estimate, some populations have dropped by as much as 93 percent since the early 1990s. Lately, the situation has grown dire.,, Last year, the number of sockeye returning to spawn in the Fraser River crashed to a record low. It’s hard to say exactly why this is happening, though logging, climate change, and overfishing all seem to play a role. Among the most controversial potential factors, however, is the virus Piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV. The virus isn’t necessarily fatal, but infected fish may be weakened and unable to swim as fast, making them more likely to be eaten by predators or fail to migrate upriver in order to spawn,,, Not everyone agrees. Among the dissenters is Fisheries and Oceans Canada-DFO,,, >click to read<  Killing Sea Lions to Save the Salmon, February 1,1925, Dorothy G. Bell, >click to read< 19:39

British Columbia: Pollution expert aims to create ‘water champions’

Peter Ross, an internationally recognized expert in water pollution, looks out over the sparkling waters of Burrard Inlet and sees something others do not. Invisible chemicals tend to be out of sight and out of mind, says Ross. But they leach into watercourses and into the marine food chain, creating “an invisible crisis.” “There are 500,000 chemicals on the global marketplace,” he said. Many of those will surreptitiously make their way into the food chain. Salmon heading up the Fraser River are also “basically running a gauntlet,” said Ross, “past wastewater treatment plants, past farms, past pulp mills, past refineries and storm drains.” Pollution is also an issue in drinking water,>click to read< – A global problem?  6PPD quinone: The environmental contaminant killing Coho salmon-An everyday chemical has been found to be highly toxic. Contamination of waterways is responsible for what had been the unexplained mass deaths of Coho salmon. We take a look at 6-PPD quinone, >click to read<14:39

Commercial salmon fishers reeling from sweeping closures

Fourth-generation fisherman Jordan Belveal of Nanaimo was ready to head north on his boat Blue Bayou to catch coho July 1 in Dixon Entrance, between B.C. and Alaska, when he heard about the widespread closures. Although he says he doesn’t mind keeping his boat tied to the dock if it means preserving some runs, Belveal opposed the closures, saying some fisheries with a good abundance of salmon have been cancelled. Losing the  coho fishery has had a “major effect on us,” said Belveal, who operates Island Wild ­Seafoods with wife Catlin, selling hook-and-line caught ­sustainable wild seafood to Vancouver Island ­customers. Belveal is now counting on the Aug. 12 chinook fishery off Haida Gwaii, which would normally have opened in June but was delayed to allow fish to head to their home rivers on Vancouver Island and to the Fraser River, >click to read< 09:56

Could B.C. commercial salmon fishery closures affect Southeast Alaska?

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the federal agency that manages Canada’s fisheries, effectively ended the 2021 commercial salmon season on the West Coast in late June. Canada’s fishing industry was stunned, says B.C. Seafood Alliance Executive Director Christina Burridge. “First Nations have harvested salmon forever. And post-contact, salmon canneries are what in the sense built this province. To be now in this situation seems really tragic to me.” The closure came just weeks after Canada announced a more than half-a-billion dollar plan to revitalize its flagging Pacific salmon stocks in B.C. and Yukon Territory.,, The Chinook on the transboundary rivers Unuk and Chilkat are among the current Southeast stocks of concern.  >click to read< 10:11

Flawed rescue? – Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for plans for a low dam. Joe Biden wants windmills

“The federal role in damming the Columbia tied in well with the New Deal belief that the government should stimulate economic recovery by putting people to work and encouraging the creation of public utilities,” records a National Park Service history of the river’s Grand Coulee dam. “Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected president of the United States in 1932, asked for plans for a low dam with foundations strong enough to support a higher dam  later, one that would back water up to the Canadian border.” (President Joe Biden’s efforts to grow offshore wind) No thought was given to the river’s salmon. “Of all the impacts that caused extinctions of Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead, dams were the most significant. “The dam wiped out runs that spawned in tributaries that drained into the Columbia from that point, river mile 596, to the headwaters, a distance of 645 river miles. Adding the tributary miles where salmon spawned nearly doubled the distance.  >click to read< 14:36

Province wants cash, house from banned commercial fisherman

The B.C. government is asking to seize a Gabriola Island home and more than $1.3 million in cash from a commercial fisherman who is banned from fishing until 2038. In a petition filed on June 28 in B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office says the cash and the home are proceeds of illegal fishing and money laundering. Named in the civil lawsuit are the commercial fisherman Scott Stanley Matthew Steer, and his spouse, Melissa Dawn Larocque, also known as Melissa Steer. Also named are Melissa’s mother, Diane Gail Butz, and several companies.,, The lawsuit alleges Steer, Larocque and the companies “continue to engage in commercial fishing, possession of fishing gear, and the illegal capture and sale of fish.” >click to read< 15:05

DFO’s sweeping salmon fishery closures leave workers reeling – Commercial fishers are paying the price,,,

“When we got that news, we’re like, shit, what do we do? And then there’s a little glimmer of hope, they didn’t say Area 4 was going to be closed for sure. That’s where I’m sitting now.” Carpenter, who is 54 years old, said waiting for the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department’s next move is a “huge gamble.” He said he has things he can do to earn money and fill his freezer if he can’t go out and fish but he’s worried about some of the older fishers who don’t have the same options. “What are they supposed to do? They’re going to go home, they may drink themselves to death or they may lose their marriages, their houses, sell everything. Who knows?” >click to read< 17:57

Vancouver Island fishermen upset after sudden salmon fishing closures

Bill Forbes and his crew geared up in French Creek to go salmon fishing. Forbes and his crew, who are heading to a spot near Prince Rupert, are one of the few commercial fisheries still open following a sudden and massive closure by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on June 29. “They can’t keep blaming the commercial fishermen, we may be part of the problem but kicking us out is not the solution,” said fisherman Bill Forbes.  “It throws this boat and all my crew, I’ve got three generations of Forbes’ on this boat and it just puts us out of work. I’m old but you know my grandson and my nephew are not. So they have to go someplace else and I don’t know where that someplace else is,” Video, >click to read< 08:54

RCMP check of U.S. fishing vessel in B.C. led to multiple weapon seizures and a U.S. warrant arrest.

The crew of an RCMP Shiprider vessel, boats that have been enforcing the Quarantine Act and Customs Act since the pandemic began, came across a 54-foot fishing vessel about two nautical miles from the border near Moresby Island on June 23, according to police. The captain and three occupants told police they were travelling from Seattle to Alaska to fish. Police directed the boat and crew to Bedwell Harbour for inspection from the Canadian Border Services Agency where undeclared prohibited firearms and parts along with unrestricted firearms were found. During the inspection, officers found one of the individuals was found to have a U.S. felony warrant for drug-related charges. >click to read< 13:17

British Columbia: Fishermen left high and dry over sudden DFO closures, financial relief needed.

Gord Johns, NDP MP for Courtenay-Alberni, is calling on the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to provide immediate relief to salmon harvesters following the sudden announcement by her department to close 60 percent of commercial salmon fisheries on the west coast of British Columbia. “This decision has blindsided fish harvesters, many of whom have already heavily invested in fishing equipment and supplies for the season and now face financial hardship,” Johns wrote in a letter to the minister, Bernadette Jordan. >click to read< 09:10

DFO Fishery Closures – ‘radical course of action’ will devastate salmon harvesters and coastal communities

A coalition of 13 members partnered in the media statement issued by UFAWU, decried the Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO) announcement of closures as “a radical course of action to combat the salmon crisis,”. “Many harvesters were freshly geared up, fees paid and deckhands aboard, heading their vessels to the salmon openings they were told to expect,,,  “These closures will devastate salmon, harvesters, and coastal communities alike. The only gain will be the political favour of those who’ve been fooled into thinking this is the answer to the salmon crisis,” UFAWU stated >click to read< 14:29

Should DFO rein in sport fishing to help save salmon?

Conservation groups want Ottawa to dramatically curtail the recreational fishery as it did with the commercial fishery last week in order to save wild salmon on the West Coast. But the sport sector, equally keen to protect the prized but diminishing chinook salmon, wants Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to make sure any further measures and restrictions this year are backed by science, and provide stability and results for the embattled fishers and the fish population. The federal government failed to address the recreational fishery, which also impacts salmon returns, despite making historic and dramatic reductions to the commercial fleet on the West Coast, said Jeffery Young, science and policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. >click to read< 08:47

Survivor: Salmon Edition

In 2020, COSEWIC designated seven chinook populations in southern British Columbia as either endangered or threatened. Much the same is true in the Columbia River watershed in the northwestern United States, where chinook populations may have lost more than one-third of their genetic diversity. More worrying still, the rate of young salmon returning as adults to rivers from California to Alaska over the past half-century has plummeted to one-third of earlier levels. It’s a picture that puzzles many researchers. A myriad of variables impact salmon survival and it takes time and research to untangle them. Land use, from mining to damming and irrigation, for example, has affected chinook stocks in the Pacific Northwest at critical life stages, but it can’t be blamed for what’s happening in the northern latitudes. >click to read< 09:05

On the Brink of Extinction: DFO salmon closures sink dreams of Pacific fishermen

Geoff Millar’s livelihood is on the brink of extinction after DFO closed roughly 60 per cent of B.C.’s commercial salmon fisheries. The closures, DFO stated, will last “multiple generations” of fish to save tumbling salmon populations. The decision leaves Millar, along with hundreds of other commercial fish harvesters on the B.C. coast, in despair and in difficult financial straits. “These closures have absolutely devastated us,” affirmed James Lawson, a Heiltsuk fish harvester based in Campbell River, B.C.,, “We’ve been forced into a corner, and the only option is retirement, that seems to be DFO’s goal.” >click to read< 07:35

Significant Commercial Fisheries closures in BC – DFO to offer licence buyback to those ready to call it quits.

Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan today announced “an initial step towards longer-term reductions in fishing pressure on stocks of conservation concern with significant commercial salmon closures for the 2021 season.” Jordan also announced there will be a federal fishing licence buyback offered to commercial fishers who are ready to call it quits. DFO’s Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for 2021-22 will result in closures to about 60% of commercial salmon fisheries in B.C. for 2021. >click to read< 15:22

Pacific salmon recovery report gives 32 recommendations to reverse declines

Wild salmon stocks are being affected by a range of impacts throughout their life cycle, which span from freshwater streams and rivers, to coastal ‘foreshore’ areas and deepwater marine environments, per the report. These threats include habitat degradation, impacts of flood control measures, predation, fishing activity, and threats of disease from fish farms. Based on these findings, the committee provided 32 recommendations to reverse salmon declines, which one witness, Richard Beamish, Scientist Emeritus at DFO’s Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, calls the “international Pacific salmon emergency.” >click to read< 07:58

First Nations, commercial, and recreational fishers join forces to save Fraser River fish.

The Lower Fraser Collaborative Table , with membership from 23 First Nations of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, recreational fishing groups, and commercial reps from the Area E Harvest Commercial, united to help both Fraser salmon runs, as well as non-salmon species. Working together to set up the collaborative table for the past three years, the members say top priorities include: conservation, sustainable access for harvesting, and better communication. Darrel McEachern, a life-long commercial fisherman, said he is “optimistic and enthused” by the creation of LFCT and “honoured” to represent commercial fishermen on the Fraser. >click to read< 17:55

The Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative – $647M to protect Pacific salmon

Record federal spending to try to save the Pacific salmon population marks the beginning of a new chapter,,, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson outlined the principles that will guide how $647.1 million announced in the last budget will be spent over the next five years. The Pacific salmon population is drastically declining due to a combination of climate, habitat and harvesting pressures, the government said in a news release. “A generation of Canadians have seen salmon populations decline, some up to 90 per cent in their lifetime,”,,, “There is no quick fix and no one single solution to save this species. This will require patience and all hands on deck.” >click to read< 19:33

A study suggests farmed fish is the source of a virus spread among wild salmon as they migrate past

Evidence shows a debilitating virus found in British Columbia salmon was transferred from Atlantic fish farms, which then spread from Pacific aquaculture operations into wild fish, says a study published Wednesday. The researchers used genome sequencing to trace the piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, that they say was first introduced to B.C. waters from Norway about 30 years ago at the start of open-net pen aquaculture in the province. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, says the evidence now suggests the virus is continuously spread between farmed and wild Pacific salmon as they migrate past the farms. >click to read< 10:25

It’s spot prawn season in B.C. – 15 years ago, many locals didn’t even know they existed

British Columbians are wild about spot prawns – now more than ever, thanks to a confluence of pandemic-related factors that have made them easier to buy and enjoy here at home. This year’s season opened on May 14 and day-boat sales are hopping, especially in Steveston, where 10 commercial fishing boats now sell live prawns straight from the dock. Last year, there were four boats,,, In previous years, there were one or two. Across the province, fishermen and retailers are selling directly to consumers,,, “Those dock sales only exist today because Steve Johansen took a leap of faith. If it weren’t for him, >click to read< 08:38

Small fishing boat washes up on rocks at Garry Point Park

A fishing boat was found tipping over near the Steveston Fisherman’s Memorial on May 17. What appears to be a small boat with crab traps on it was found on the rocks at Garry Point Park Thursday afternoon. In a video taken by Twitter user Climate Watcher, the boat can be seen around 4:15 p.m. tilting at a 45-degree angle up against the rocky area near the Steveston Fisherman’s Memorial. >click to read/watch< 11:35

DFO: ‘tubbing’ can continue for the commercial prawn fishery 2021 season

“Our goal is, and always has been, to see our Pacific prawn fishery continue to thrive. Working in partnership with the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, we have agreed on a process that will allow harvesters to freeze their catch at sea this season, just as they’ve done for years. Size limits remain a critical part of a sustainable prawn fishery, and we will work with industry to develop viable, alternative practices for the long-term. But with the season fast approaching, it’s important that British Columbians understand they can, and should, continue to purchase delicious, frozen Pacific prawns.” >click to read< 07:35

Fishermen should be listened to

It’s a typical story of David versus Goliath,,, That appears to be the case as prawn fishers on the Island take a stand against what looks to me to be an arbitrary and bureaucratic decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to change regulations regarding the harvesting of spot  prawns, which now makes the sale of frozen-at-sea spot prawns illegal. Thanks to the efforts of many, has agreed to conduct an emergency review of   the regulations and, hopefully, common sense will prevail and the new rules will be reversed. Unfortunately, that kind of common sense just didn’t appear to exist in DFO when the northern cod stocks collapsed off Canada’s east coast in the early 1990s. >click to read< 07:25

DFO to conduct emergency review of new West Coast prawn fishery regulations

“It’s hard to say if the review will accomplish anything, but I’m happy the issue is being taken seriously,” “So far, due to pressure from the public, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has said that, as far as they are concerned, defying the new regulations is a contravention of the law, but they won’t enforce the regulations in 2021. But that’s just punting it down the line. Fishers and the communities need this changed and we need a long-term solution to this issue.” DFO’s objection to freezing spot prawns on fishing boats is in reference to a reinterpretation of the regulation requiring all harvested products to be readily available for measurement by enforcement officers on fishing boats. >click to read< 07:55