Tag Archives: British Columbia

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

A new day of fishing to help children with cancer

Once again this year, a day like no other took place Saturday off the coast of Nanaimo, mobilizing fishermen, truckers and volunteers to raise funds for children with cancer by selling a huge amount of herring. I’m extremely grateful to be a part ofit,” says Aaron Chin, a board member of Fishermen Helping Kids With Cancer. The 1925 bags were quickly sold, representing just over 19 tonnes of fish and $38,000 for cancer patients at the BC Children’s Hospital. >click to read< (you may need to click translate) 21:01

Off Washington state’s coast, Dungeness crabbers get early start to season, haul in bounty

Some 60 vessels in Washington’s oceangoing crab fleet worked through a stormy December to bring in more than 4.69 million pounds of Dungeness in a strong start to the annual harvest. The ocean harvest has unfolded in a stretch of coastal waters from Klipsan Beach south to the Columbia River. Fishers also have had to endure some tough, chilly weather during the final weeks of 2021. “We’re all from Alaska so it seems pretty normal to us,” said Daniel Crome, who was raised in Petersburg, Alaska, and fishes out of Westport with a five-person crew that as the catch rates dropped off, was cut to four. Back at the docks, these Dungeness have fetched $4.75 a pound or more. >click to read< 08:23

B.C. Supreme Court: Lifetime ban and prohibition from being aboard a fishing vessel for Scott Steer

Scott Stanley Matthew Steer, a repeat offender under Canada’s Fisheries Act, was handed a lifetime prohibition against fishing and a prohibition against being onboard a fishing vessel. This is the first lifetime ban for a Pacific Region fisherman in over a decade. One of the two crew members arrested with Mr. Steer, Sammy Williams, was also convicted for violations of the Fisheries Act on November 30, 2021 in Vancouver Court and will be sentenced in the new year. The other crew member, Cristopher Schill, pleaded guilty in a separate trial and will also be sentenced in early 2022. >click to read< 13:25

Ryan Phillips, sparking welds for fishermen and mariners

Ryan Phillips always knew he wanted to be his own boss when he grew up. Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Phillips was raised and immersed in the family business, now he runs his own welding workshop in Port Edward. His father, a commercial fisherman, would regularly take his sons out to sea. Phillips’s new customer base knew he was a commercial fisherman and had confidence in what he was doing. “I’ve prawn fished. I’ve halibut fished. I’ve tuna fished. I’ve salmon fished, long-line and crab fished,” he said, also adding shrimp fishing to his list of work. “If you’ve done all the fisheries, you get to learn how a boat should be set up for every fishery.” “When you do that, you know how a boat has to be, and that’s why I immediately did well here.” Great story! >click to read< 14:41

Repeat Offender: Gabriola Island fisheries violator jailed following late night boat chase

Scott Stanley Matthew Steer, 44, was sentenced last month in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver following his conviction on five charges earlier this year. Steer and two accomplices aboard a boat in Burrard Inlet were spotted by fisheries officers and perused in the early morning hours of March 2, 2020. The unlicensed Steer was arrested aboard the vessel containing 250 illegally caught live crabs captured out of season, Justice Peter Edelmann determined. Steer also breached two court orders by being on a fishing vessel and in possession of associated gear. >click to read< 09:43

Recently released salmon eggs likely bore the brunt of record breaking rains in the Pacific Northwest.

Standing outside his house in Blanchard, Washington, water up to his thighs, Kevin Morse watched in awe as a few salmon, usually found in a nearby creek, swam across his driveway. Morse is just one of thousands of people across western Washington and British Columbia who experienced severe flooding in mid-November.,, As communities turn to cleanup efforts and brace themselves for yet more rain, experts say that the flooding could have both positive and negative ecological impacts on salmon. >click to read< 22:01

Devastating Damage from B.C., Atlantic storms no easy fix

The rainstorms in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada have impacted livelihoods, with damaged highways and rail lines cutting off communities and hampering key supply chain routes. Unprecedented rainfall from atmospheric rivers in B.C. and the Maritimes has dropped hundreds of millimetres worth of rain — surpassing in days the totals some regions see in a whole month. Video, photos, >click to read< For a page of some amazing stories from both coasts, with more being added as we find them. >click to read< 14:16

For B.C.’s salmon, floods represent another challenge to survival

James Reinheller stared down his flooded street in Clayburn on Monday, he said he saw a bizarre sight: a salmon making its way up the water-logged road.  “It was quite the sight to see. You just don’t expect to see salmon swimming up your road.” But the damage from what Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called a “once in a century” storm could be another stressor for salmon on B.C.’s South Coast after decades of fishing, habitat destruction and development that have sent salmon stocks spiraling into decline, >click to read< 18:12

Canadian Coast Guard knocks down Hardy Bay boat fire

The Canadian Coast Guard stopped a blaze from ravaging a small fishing boat in Hardy Bay. According to Brian Salisbury with Marine Search and Rescue, the call came in at 12:30 pm yesterday (Thursday), with Coast Guard crews able to knock the fire down and rescue passengers. Reports point to the small boat belonging to a bigger boat called The Blue Dragger, and in a Facebook post, Port Hardy Fire Rescue said the flames were “highly visible.” >click to read< 09:37

Island fishermen ‘worried’ as cons call to stop herring fishery set to start in days

Lasqueti Island herring fisherman Billy Forbes worries about the future of his four-generation long fishing family. After 51 years of captaining fishing boats in the Strait of Georgia, Forbes said he’s unsure if handing over the family’s namesake boat would be a gift to his grandson or a curse. “This is all he knows, so if there’s nothing left for him he’s gotta find something else,” said Forbes. Taylor Forbes, 23, said he has started to lose hope there’s a future in fishing. Video,  >click to read< 08:21

U.S., Canadian Coast Guards respond to container vessel near the Strait of Juan de Fuca

The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard responded to a container vessel that lost 40 containers during heavy weather Friday 40 miles from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received notification from Prince Rupert Marine Communication and Traffic Services at 12:49 a.m. Friday that the shipping vessel Zim Kingston reported losing approximately 40 containers overboard when the vessel heeled 35 degrees in heavy swells 38 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The lost containers were initially reported to be general containers with no dangerous cargo. >click to read< 11:15

Fishery Closures and the Ghosts of Past Mistakes

The news spread quickly across the calm June waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, as fishers jumped on the radio to figure out what had just happened. The radio chatter was incessant as fishers wondered aloud where they’d be allowed to fish, if they would be out of business, and what the future would hold. “Everyone was freaking out because all of those questions were unanswered,” Christian says, adding this policy will likely end British Columbia’s commercial salmon industry.,, Under the PSSI, DFO plans to close 57 percent of the 138 Pacific salmon fisheries along the west coast of British Columbia and Yukon.  >click to read< 10:06