Tag Archives: British Columbia

You’re Young and Want to Make It Fishing? Good Luck

Duncan Cameron is a fisherman, like his dad and his dad’s dad before him. They count themselves among the scores of families who have made their livings on the water, pulling riches from the deep. But today, Cameron says young fishers like him are being priced out. Cameron is part of a group of fishers, conservationists and politicians who say independent owner-operators like himself are increasingly competing with big money to get a finite number of government licenses and quota they need to fish. Today, some of those licenses are worth hundreds of thousands or even more than a million dollars, something Cameron said has allowed major corporations to control a growing stake in a public resource. photos, more, >>click to read<< 07:27

Keeping an Industry Afloat – Thomas Goulding’s Cork Mill

Plastic floats have taken over the market since the 1950s, but before then fishing floats were almost exclusively made of cork or wood. The wooden ones were known as “cedar corks” and the only commercial supplier of them on the West Coast was Thomas Goulding who produced them in his Cork Mill at the Acme Cannery on Sea Island. The Acme Cannery was built in 1899, part of the boom in cannery construction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to take advantage of the seemingly unlimited supply of salmon available in the Fraser River. In 1902 it was absorbed into the British Columbia Packers amalgamation. In 1918 it closed, but the buildings, net racks and moorage were maintained for the community of fishermen, mostly Japanese, who lived around it. In a small building on the west side of the cannery Mr. Goulding set up the cork mill. The building and all the equipment for the mill, the saws, the lathes, the reamer, the stringer and the tar vat were all hand-built by him with help from his Japanese Neighbours. Photos, maps, more, >>click to read<< 13:38

B.C. seeks $6 million in properties allegedly tied to illegal crab-sales scheme

The B.C. government is seeking forfeiture of properties valued at more than $6 million that it alleges were tied to a scheme to sell illegally crabs that were meant for food for First Nations. In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the province alleges that two commercial properties in Richmond, a house in Vancouver and a pickup truck, are the instruments and proceeds of “unlawful activity” linked to the illegal crab-sales scheme. Named in the suit are Jamin Chiong, who sold the crab to seafood wholesaler Million Ocean Seafood Ltd., and the owners of that company, Tsz Wah Fok, Peng Lin and Tak Yi Tong. None of those named in the suit have responded and the allegations have not been proven in court. more, >>click to read<< 18:47

‘It’s definitely precedent setting:’ commercial prawn operator fined $250K

Prawning in an environmentally sensitive area off the lower Sunshine Coast resulted in a heavy fine and fishing gear seizure against a Delta man. A recent provincial court sentencing hearing in Sechelt followed the conviction of 13 violations under Canada’s Fisheries Act against Dean Keitsch in connection to incidents in July 2020 off the coastal community on board his vessel Dark Star. Fisheries officers retrieved more than 550 prawn traps set at the bottom of the Strait of Georgia Glass Sponge Reef Marine Refuge, which is closed to all forms of bottom fishing. photos, more, >>click to read<< 07:05

No-farm farm

In one of the stranger twists in the strange world of global salmon marketing, Alaska’s non-farm fish farmers played a role in convincing the Canadian city of Ottawa to order removal of billboards protesting farmed salmon. The reason? “False advertising.” And now the same environmental group involved in Ottawa – Wild First – is under fire in British Columbia for running radio advertisements claiming salmon farms have pushed wild Pacific salmon to “the brink of extinction,” according to the news website Business in Vancouver (BIV). That claim is about as far from the truth as one can get. Salmon in the Pacific are today at numbers never seen in recorded history, but most of them are pink salmon. Some scientists contend this explosion of pinks due in part to the free-range fish farming efforts of hatchery operators in Alaska and Russia has reached the point where it is wreaking havoc with the entire North Pacific ecosystem. more, >>click to read<< 07:50

Why Fairer West Coast Fishing Needs More “Boots on Deck,” According to New Report 

The West Coast fishing industry finds itself in increasingly troubled waters, according to a recent report from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO). The parliamentary committee says unfair regulations and a lack of federal intervention have led to an uneven playing field for BC fishers. Unlike the Maritime provinces, where regulations limit corporate control and prioritize independent harvesters, there are no restrictions on ownership of commercial licenses and quotas on BC’s coast. As a result, owner-operators are often shut out of the process, jeopardizing their ability to make a sustainable living. “Fisheries are the fabric of our coastal communities, and they have been particularly in Indigenous communities for 10 to 15,000 years. Fish in the water are the birthright of all Canadians,” Sonia Strobel, CEO of Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery, told us in an interview. photos, more, >>click to read<< 07:45

Refinancing Clearwater loan worth millions in annual cash flow for Mi’kmaw owners

Mi’kmaw First Nations that own half of Canadian seafood giant Clearwater will finally start seeing multi-million dollar cash flows from their investment thanks to a loan refinancing that slashes interest payments. Their partner in the landmark deal, Premium Brands of Richmond, B.C., lent a coalition of seven Mi’kmaw First Nations about $240 million to cover their equity purchase of Clearwater in 2020. But the loan came with a hefty 10 per cent interest rate, according to the non-profit First Nations Financial Authority. Premium has agreed to refinance $100 million of that debt through the First Nations Financial Authority at its interest rate of 4.2 per cent, the authority said Tuesday. more, >>click to read<< 12:37

Fall of the kings

The Seattle-area-based Wild Fish Conservancy has dropped a bomb on the Alaska commercial fishing industry with a petition to the federal government demanding it list the state’s Chinook salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Such a listing would almost certainly to lead to yet more restrictions on Chinook-directed fisheries, such as the troll fishery in Southeast Alaska and the drift gillnet fishery off the mouth of the Copper River, which has been found to intercept some Chinook bound for rivers in Southeast, British Columbia and the Lower 48. The number of those fish now caught in the Copper’s Chinook fishery is not large but appears to increase in years when ocean waters are warm which could present issues going forward. more, >>click to read<< 17:17

B.C. salmon farms linked to explosive spike in wild fish deaths

Dead juvenile herring with their eyes blown out after getting caught in a hydrolicer

B.C. salmon farms killed more than 800,000 wild fish in 2022, 16 times more than the last decade’s yearly average, federal data shows. The unprecedented spike in aquaculture bycatch accounts for more dead fish in one year than the combined death toll over the previous 10 years. In one graphic example, video captured at a Cermaq facility in Clayoquot Sound shows herring floundering at the surface after getting sucked into a powerful machine meant to remove sea lice from farmed salmon. Stan Proboszcz, a senior scientist at Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said he has never seen anything like it.  “All these herring that went through the hydrolicer had their eyes blown out,” Proboszcz said. “It’s horrific.”  more, photos, >>click to read<< 18:07

B.C. stream watchers link ‘unprecedented’ coho salmon kill to tire toxin and drought

John Barker has been volunteering with the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society for more than 20 years and says he’s never seen anything like it, dozens of coho salmon, pre-spawn and silvery, looking fresh from the sea, dead at the mouth of Brothers Creek. “When you have a loss like this, it’s devastating,” said Barker. He and others suspect the culprit in the “unprecedented” kill in late October could have been a chemical found in tires that has previously been associated with coho deaths, coupled with B.C.’s drought. He hopes solutions can be found and wants the tire industry to find an alternative to the chemical, called 6PPD-quinone. >>click to read<< 10:44

Red herring? Facing off over the sustainability of B.C.’s herring fishery

Calls for a last-minute moratorium are intensifying as the start of Pacific herring season in the Straight of Georgia approaches on Nov.24. Concerns are resurfacing among some citizens as they fear the potential impact of these fisheries on the province’s herring stock. According to Jim Shortreed, a Victoria-based herring enhancement volunteer, these numbers are unsustainable. When asked what would be the ideal biomass, the marine specialist couldn’t define the exact number. Ronnie Chickite, elected Chief of the region’s We Wai Kai Nation and herring fisherman with nearly three decades of experience, disagreed with Dixon’s assessment. >>click to read<< 08:52

First Nations seek salmon return to Columbia Basin in new treaty with U.S.

Representatives from the Ktunaxa and Syilx Okanagan nations say they continue to bring up salmon restoration in negotiations for a modern Columbia River Treaty and will not stop until a solution can be reached within or outside a new agreement. The U.S.-Canada treaty regulates the cross-border Columbia River to prevent flooding and generate hydro power. A key component of the 62-year-old treaty is set to expire in September 2024, lending urgency to the ongoing talks. “I think what we are doing in the fight to bring salmon back is vital to us moving forward,” said Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow, who is a member on the Syilx Okanagan Nation’s Chiefs Executive Council and the Nation’s lead in the Columbia River Treaty talks. >>click to read<< 14:25

Struggling salmon fishermen getting federal help, but it may be too late

Earlier this month, two years after a request by Oregon’s governor, the U.S. Department of Commerce declared a Chinook fishery disaster for 2018, 2019 and 2020, years when local salmon populations plummeted. Fishing regulators blame the drop on  poor habitat conditions and climate change near the California-Oregon border, where thousands of Chinook migrate from the ocean up rivers and streams to spawn. The disaster declaration releases financial assistance for fishermen and possibly for other businesses, along with funding to help restore the fishery and protect future Chinook runs, members of Oregon’s congressional delegation said in a statement. “The powers that be move pretty slowly when it comes to this stuff,” said Ray Monroe, a Pacific City dory fisherman. >>click to read<< 12:00

Travis Van Hill’s crew was back fishing on Okanagan Lake, but this time without their captain

A month after Travis Van Hill’s shrimp boat capsized on Okanagan Lake, his crew took to the water for the first time. Van Hill drowned when the vessel Western Slope capsized in a windstorm on July 24. His body was recovered Aug. 16. Kim Van Hill, Van Hill’s wife, said two crew members went fishing Thursday night, for the first time without their captain. One former crew member was too traumatized by the incident to return to work. She said the crew paid tribute to Van Hill on their first night back on the water. >click to read< 10:06

Body pulled from Okanagan Lake believed to be captain of fishing boat

Both men who died in a surprise wind storm on July 24 were likely pulled from a pair of Okanagan lakes on the same day. On Wednesday, the body of 26-year-old kayaker Eli Buruca was finally recovered from Kalamalka Lake. “The deceased is believed to be the 55-year old man who went missing when his boat capsized on the night of July 24,” said Cst. Chris Terleski. “However, this cannot be confirmed until a positive identification is made by the BC Coroners Service.” Van Hill was the captain of a commercial fishing boat, which capsized in Okanagan Lake near Ellison Provincial Park around 11 pm on July 24. click to read< 07:58

Missing kayaker’s body found as search moves on to shrimp boat captain

The body of a missing kayaker has been found on Kalamalka Lake. Eli Buruca went missing during a windstorm the night of July 24. Volunteer searchers located Buruca’s body in deep water at the north end of the lake and it was recovered by the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team on Wednesday, says police spokesperson Cpl. Tania Finn. “Our sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased,” said Finn. Meanwhile, the search for Travis Van Hill continues on Okanagan Lake, near Ellison Provincial Park. Van Hill went missing during the same storm, when the shrimp boat he was on capsized. >click to read< 10:31

Research groups sound alarm after three whales reportedly struck by ships off West Coast

Three whales were reportedly struck by vessels in northern B.C. waters over a 10-day period last month, raising West Coast humpback researchers’ concerns over the risk shipping poses to the marine mammals. The first report involved a BC Ferries vessel, the Northern Expedition, colliding with a whale in Wright Sound near Kitimat on July 20, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirmed. A second incident on July 21 involved a boat that transports workers to Alcan’s Rio Tinto power generation facility in Kitimat. And a cruise ship struck a whale in Hecate Strait between Haida Gwaii and the B.C. mainland on July 29, DFO said. Shipping traffic and humpback whale populations are both on the rise, often in the same areas, escalating the risk of vessel strikes to humpbacks, the greatest threat to the species of special concern along with entanglements in fishing gear.>click to read< 17:46

Capsized shrimp boat recovered from Okanagan Lake

The shrimp boat Travis Van Hill was working on the night he is presumed to have drowned is now out of Okanagan Lake. Crews were at Paddlewheel Park boat launch in Vernon Tuesday afternoon, dragging the formerly capsized boat out of the water. The boat has now been dry docked. Kim Van Hill, wife of the missing boat captain, says the boat will be taken away. It took two trucks to pull the vessel out of the water. Van Hill was not found on the boat when it was recovered. Some believed he had been caught in the netting pulled behind the boat, but when the netting was recovered, Van Hill was not among it.  Video, >click to read< 09:47

Boat recovery underway one week after B.C. man presumed drowned

Travis Van Hill’s family has been waiting for a full week now for the wreckage of his boat to be pulled from the lake. The commercial fishing boat captain went down with his vessel Monday, July 24 during a storm on Okanagan Lake. His body has yet to be located or resurface. Red tape and paperwork have prevented anyone from retrieving him or his boat, according to Travis’ family. “His body will be decomposed and won’t look like my handsome husband,” wife Kim Van Hill said. But today, Monday, July 31, appears to be the day that action may finally take place. >click to read< 16:51

Frustration grows as captain still missing, boat still submerged in Okanagan Lake

It’s been more than three days and there is still no sign of Travis Van Hill, whose shrimp boat capsized on Okanagan Lake during a storm Monday night, July 24. The boat captain’s wife, Kim Van Hill, is frustrated by the amount of red tape around rescuing her husband’s remains from the boat, the tip of which can be seen poking above the waters of Okanagan Lake near Ellison Provincial Park.“A dive team from Vancouver, the dive lead, said he’s never been in this type of rescue and he’s been doing it for 16 years,” she said of the process which has taken too long to recover Travis’ body. It is presumed that Travis is trapped in the boat, and Kim explained that WorkSafeBC needs to sign off on the recovery before the RCMP dive team can retrieve Travis from the boat. >click to read< 09:56

Fisherman missing on Okanagan Lake identified by family

Maddy Pool identified the missing man as her step-father, Travis Van Hill. She says Van Hill was working last night on a boat that fishes for shrimp at night. According to Pool, no storm was forecasted last night, which is why the boats went out. She said the company is “really smart” about storms. “There were two boats out there last night. The one boat made it in safe and the other one didn’t, which was the one that my stepdad was on.” The boat capsized near Ellison Provincial Park at the north end of the lake, and being that Van Hill was working, WorkSafeBC has been called in. >click to read< , and here. 10:50

Vancouver MP Joyce Murray won’t seek re-election

Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray has announced she will not run again in the next federal election. Murray is currently serving as the federal minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. She announced her decision to not seek re-election on Twitter Tuesday. She says the decision came “after much thought and reflection,” adding this term will be her last. “My work in politics and time serving my community both federally and provincially as an elected official has been the honour of my life,” she said. >click to read< 14:42

‘Reckless’: Richmond fishing firm fined $755K for ammonia release

A Richmond-based fishing company has been fined $755,000 related to the handling and discharge of ammonia in 2017, a Vancouver Provincial Court judge ruled July 19. Judge Ellen Gordon heard earlier 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. The events took place Oct. 15, 2017 to Nov. 24, 2017, starting with the removal of ammonia from the trawler as its refrigeration systems were being worked on. It was stored in a tank on the dock. It was determined the ammonia was contaminated and the company received an $819,000 quote for disposing of it. The company decided to look at other options. This is quite a story! >click to read< 20:27

Crab ice cream, anyone? How we might be able to eat our way out of an invasive green crab problem

They’re tiny and they’re wreaking havoc on our coasts, but they also taste pretty good. European green crabs have posed a problem off the coast of Vancouver Island for decades now, and while current conservation efforts have focused on deep freezing them and throwing them in a landfill, some suggest eating them instead. The species, which is found across the Pacific Northwest is aggressive and feeds voraciously on shellfish; they have no natural predators, and they reproduce at a high rate. Each female can have up to 185,000 babies at a time.  It’s not just a West Coast problem. Fisheries and Oceans Canada notes that the species, which originally came from Europe and North Africa and likely hitched a ride to North America on wooden ships in the early 19th century, first invaded east coast waters in the 1950s. >click to read< 09:50

B.C. man fined $160K for breaking Canadian, U.S. fishing laws

A B.C. man who pleaded guilty to four counts related to breaching Canadian and U.S. fishing laws has been given a three-year deadline to pay $160,000 worth of fines. Judge Kimberly Arthur-Leung considered Hoan Trung Do’s fishing activities in Boundary Bay between July 15, 2018 and Oct. 31, 2020 before determining he’d “knowingly broke the law for financial gain and to the detriment of the environment,” according to a recent provincial court decision. The ruling explains that Do has been fishing since 1999 and therefore knew the regulations surrounding Boundary Bay, which is described as “a pocket of the Salish Sea bordering the joint Canadian and (U.S.) waters.” >click to read< 11:27

Fishing boat stuck in undredged Steveston Harbour

A full crew of fishermen wasn’t able to fish for at least three hours after getting stuck in the Steveston Channel on Tuesday afternoon. The F/V Queen’s Reach was on its way to collect its gear from Steveston Harbour before it was stopped short due to low tides and not enough depth in the channel. Jaime Gusto, Steveston Harbour Authority general manager, told the News “being stuck in the mud is unacceptable” when there are 45 businesses depending on water access. “This is a big deal,” she said, adding that it is an economic, safety and environmental issue. >click to read< 13:02

Learn all about Okanagan Lake’s shrimp boat fleet

You don’t have to be Forrest Gump to start your own career as a shrimp fisherman. In fact, Okanagan Lake has its own shrimp fleet. Piscine Energetics operates research vessels that harvest mysis shrimp from the lake. Harvesting has been ongoing each summer since 2000. It was started in response to falling kokanee numbers. The shrimp had been introduced in the 1960s and were seen as a food source for the fish. For a few years, record size kokanee were caught. But the plan soon backfired when it was realized the shrimp were competing for food with the kokanee fry. A recent ad recruiting shrimp boat deckhands explains Piscine’s “mission to restore fish populations to their natural levels through the management of invasive aquatic organisms.” Interesting video, >click to read< 10:08

British Columbia: Steveston fishermen race against time for spot prawn season

The annual spot prawn season may feel short and sweet to seafood enthusiasts, but it’s even more pressing for the few spot prawn fishermen at Steveston’s Fisherman’s Wharf. The wild spot prawn, known for its eponymous spots, has a four-year life cycle and lives in “crystal clear, pristine waters” deep in the ocean. “By year number two, they transition into a female. And they spawn at year number four, and then they die,” said Frank “Fisherman Frank” Keitsch, who has been catching spot prawns for around 30 years. With the fishing grounds being far away from Steveston, only around four local boats are able to cover the distance. >click to read< 11:35

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