Tag Archives: British Columbia

Fish fight over West Coast licences and quota resurfaces at federal committee

A parliamentary committee investigating whether corporations and foreign owners have a stranglehold on Canadian fisheries is experiencing a serious case of deja vu. Witnesses speaking about the dire straits faced by commercial fish harvesters and coastal communities on the West Coast are raising the same issues first presented to the Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) starting in 2018.Independent operators, First Nations and young fishers are being squeezed out by  skyrocketing prices for commercial fishing licences and quota, a set share of the allowable catch, witnesses told the committee at ongoing meetings starting May 8. >click to read< 15:23

BC fishing industry’s ‘Christmas season’ – it’s time for spot prawns

It’s time to fire up the barbie: Spot prawn season has arrived. “It’s the Christmas of the fishing season,” says Jennifer Gidora, operations manager at Finest At Sea Ocean Products in James Bay. Prawns caught daily by the company’s vessel Nordic Spirit, under Capt. Alec Fraumeni, land at Fisherman’s Wharf and are delivered across the street to the store. Spot prawns, with a season that often runs four to six weeks, have a “cult-like following,” Gidora said of the excitement surrounding the fishery. Prices have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, Wednesday’s price was $34 per pound for live prawns and $60 per pound for fresh prawn tails. >click this to read< 11:36

Shining the Light on Baby Crabs

The light trap at Whaler Bay is one in a network of 20 traps placed throughout the Canadian side of the Salish Sea, from Read Island in the north to James Island near Sidney in the south, as part of the Hakai Institute’s multiyear Sentinels of Change program. Launched in 2022 to mark the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, this community-centered initiative involves understanding how marine invertebrates are adapting to the changing environment. The light trap project, which focuses on the native Dungeness crab—a much-loved treat on the coast that can grow to the size of an adult’s outstretched hand—is a part of this program. Photos, >click to read< 10:17

Ship Strikes: Thousands of whales are being killed by passing ships. Can we save them?

A collision with a vessel is one of the main threats to whales and if the whale does not die on impact, it is usually only a question of time. In Moon’s case, Wray knows she made the 3,000 mile migration to Hawaii. “We’re actually hoping that she has passed,” says Wray. She has not been seen since December. With potentially thousands of whales hit every year, and with the number of ships rapidly increasing across the globe, the problem is only getting worse. But as the recent UN high seas treaty shows, there is increasing political will to protect the world’s oceans and their inhabitants. The question is whether it is even possible to save the whales from dying at the bows of ships. New technology suggests yes – but it’s going to take all hands on deck. >click to read< 08:01

‘Potentially lethal’: Crown wants $2.95M in fines for Richmond ammonia release

A Richmond-based fishing company should pay $2.95 million in fines related to the handling and discharge of ammonia in 2017, a Vancouver provincial court judge heard March 29. Judge Ellen Gordon heard the ammonia was taken from the Viking Enterprise trawler, stored on the Reagle wharf and then transported to the company operations near Jacombs Road and Cambie Road. “This was a horrific incident, a very dangerous incident,” Gordon said. Multiple individual and corporate defendants pleaded guilty to three counts from an indictment of 10 that involved the transportation, storage and then venting of the potentially lethal substance into the air or runoff into a storm drain to a nearby slough. >click to read< 08:05

Coast Guard aircrew medevacs Canadian crewmember from 72′ fishing vessel near Graham Island, British Columbia

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka aircrew medically evacuated a 24-year-old crewmember from a Canadian vessel located northwest of Graham Island in British Columbia on Friday. The MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew arrived on scene at 7:58 p.m. and safely hoisted and transported the patient to shore in Masset, a village in British Columbia, where he was then transferred to awaiting EMS. >click to read< 17:12

Halibut treaty marked new era in Canadian independence

On March 10, the 2023 wild Pacific halibut fishing season opens. Fishers licensed accordingly will be able to harvest the white-fleshed groundfish from Bering Strait to California until early December. That there is a halibut season at all on this coast is due to an agreement signed a century ago between the U.S. and Canada. The 1923 Convention between Canada and the United States of America for the Preservation of the Pacific Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, also known as the Halibut Treaty of 1923, is the first environmental treaty designed to conserve ocean stocks of a fish. It is also the first treaty the Canadian government negotiated and signed independently. >click to read< 12:43

Canada Shuts Down 15 Fish Farms in B.C., Citing Risks to Wild Salmon

After years of concerns over the impact of aquaculture on wild sockeye salmon, Canada’s fisheries department has decided not to renew the operating permits of 15 Atlantic salmon farms in an environmentally sensitive area of British Columbia. In a news release, Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray noted that B.C.’s salmon runs are in “serious, long-term decline,” and some are at risk of collapse if action is not taken. Ten years have passed since the Cohen commission’s report, and more recent research indicates that the diseases associated with salmon-farming may have an impact on wild salmon in general and on Fraser River salmon smolts in particular. >click to read< 16:00

Commission releases halibut quotas

The International Pacific Halibut Commission has released the quotas for the 2023 season, and they seem to be more aligned with reality than the increases the past two years, with the IPHC describing the overall biomass as being at “historic lows.”  Quotas are down across the board in Alaska and Canada, especially in Areas 3A and 4A. Area 2B, British Columbia, also took a hit, with a quota of 5.03 million pounds, down 11.75%. Fishermen are becoming distrustful in the IPHC process, according to fisherman and fisheries advocate Buck Laukitis. “The IPHC management process is more political than science-based,” he said via text. “Long-time fishermen and those interested in having something to catch a generation from now are losing confidence in an overly complicated and very political process.” >click to read< 18:11

Herring sale returns to Steveston this weekend

Organized by charity Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer, the 12th annual herring sale will take place at Steveston Harbour Authority on Trites Road on Saturday, January 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Later this week, a few herring seiners will be fishing north of Nanaimo and, depending on the weather, they hope to catch 50 tons of tasty herring for thousands of customers in Steveston and at the other sale in Victoria Since 2011, commercial fishing industry has raised close to $1 million for kids being treated for cancer at BC Children’s Hospital. Fishermen and key fish companies cover all costs of the event so 100 per cent of the funds raised at the sale go to the kids. >click to read< 17:56

Feds launch licence buyback plan to scale down B.C.’s salmon fishing fleet

Looking to fix the problem of too many boats chasing too few fish, on Wednesday, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) unveiled details on its voluntary commercial licence retirement (LRP) program that will pay salmon harvesters to exit the industry. However, the union for commercial fishers says first impressions suggest the plan is “deeply disappointing” and designed to drive down the value of licences being bought out. DFO is allocating $123 million from its Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative for the licence buyback and two additional future programs. >click to read< 08:30

Canadian Coast Guard can’t retire old fisheries science vessels on East Coast

Canada is extending the life of its two aging offshore fisheries science vessels on the East Coast as the Canadian Coast Guard struggles to bring their replacements into service. The transition has floundered because of breakdowns, unplanned maintenance and refits on both new and old fisheries science vessels. In response, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has now postponed the planned retirement of 40-year-old CCGS Alfred Needler on Dec.31 and 34-year-old CCGS Teleost set for March 2023. >click to read< 09:18

Workers rescue Bella Coola fishing boat jammed under a pier in Bella Coola harbour

Two pile drivers are being hailed as heroes after they rescued a fishing boat that was jammed under a pier in the Bella Coola harbour on Monday, Nov. 7. The risk of the situation was heightened by the fact there are seven fuel pipelines connected to the Columbia Fuels dock at the pier. Had the boat hit them, it could have been a disaster, the operations supervisor for the Bella Coola branch of Columbia Fuels Jordan Prong said. At around 8:30 a.m. Monday, the Algoma 2 fishing boat was under the dock and ramming into the pilings, said its owner’s husband Carl Schooner. “We did not know what to do.” Video, >click to read< 07:58

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick crew medevacs fisherman in Canadian waters

The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick medevaced an injured fisherman Saturday in Canadian waters off Vancouver Island. A small boat crew launched from the cutter and boarded the fishing vessel F/V Miss Norma in the vicinity of Johnstone Strait, British Columbia, where they administered first aid to the 67-year-old man, who was suffering symptoms of a concussion and a broken arm. The crew placed him in a rescue litter, loaded him onto the small boat, and transferred him to the John McCormick. Photos, >click to read< 21:18

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