Local Fishers Support Net Recycling Initiative

The Steveston Harbour net recycling initiative has been extremely successful over the last few years, and it’s great to have it be supported by local fishing families who see this responsible disposal option as a much needed program.

Jack Bowling and his family have been eager supporters of the program and we wish to thank them for their encouragement and donations to the project. Jack has provided a short write up about his family’s fishing history and his involvement in the net recycling program – see below for a great local story and a first hand reason why this initiative is so important.

Salmon fishing on the Fraser River

In 1909, 19-year old Isaac Newton “Newt” McCulloch rode the rails west from his birthplace in Nova Scotia, ending up in the booming Vancouver, BC area. He worked various jobs wherever he could find work, including in the logging camp atop the Tsawwassen peninsula. It was there that he met his future wife, Fannie, second eldest of the seven daughters of the widowed Isabella Pearce. They married in 1916 and settled in Boundary Bay at the east end of what is now 12th Avenue in Tsawwassen. 

After running a general store for a few years, Newt ended up as a cook on the seiner Seamark No. 2 working the BC coast in the 1920s into the early 1930s while Fannie minded their three young daughters. By the mid-1930s, Newt wanted to be closer to home, so he switched from seine boats to gillnetting on the Fraser River out of the nearby port of Ladner. This he did until old age caught up to him in the 1970s.

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Newt and Fannie on the Ladner wharf in front of the seiner Seamark No. 2 in 1933

But there was another spoke in the fishing wheel. In 1951, Pearl McCulloch, the youngest of Newt and Fannie’s girls, married Earl Bowling, second youngest of the six children of Jack and Flo Bowling of Ladner. Given his previous fishing boat experience, Earl fell into helping Newt out. Under Newt’s direction, he decided to build his own gillnetter and the “Queen Bee” slipped into the water of Ladner Harbour in 1968. Earl and Pearl’s four children were all involved in fishing the local waters of the Fraser River with them until they retired from fishing, selling the license in 1993.

And so we come full circle to 2017. Newt and Fannie have passed, as have Pearl and Earl. When we were cleaning up their estate, we found over thirty gillnets that Earl had saved. What to do with the nets? Salmon fishing on the Fraser River is but a shadow of its former self, so there was little opportunity to hand over the nets to a working boat.

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Pearl and Earl on the Queen Bee in 1985

After some investigation, we discovered the Net Recycling Program run by the Steveston Harbour Authority and spearheaded by Joel Baziuk, its Operations Supervisor. This is part of a global initiative to get so-called “ghost nets” out of the planet’s waters and put an end to their disastrous by-catch of numerous defenceless aquatic species.

The program’s website is here: Steveston Harbour Net Recycling Program

Joel eagerly accepted all the old nets and provided us with the background of the program. We were glad to contribute. If you have any old nets lying around, please consider contacting Joel and donating your nets.

Colin, Jack, Brad and Heather Bowling

Do Not Feed Wildlife

There has been a wild sea lion frequenting the public sales float lately, and it has come to our attention that some people have been feeding the animal and otherwise encouraging it to remain in the area. While we appreciate that seeing wildlife can be exciting, we stress that feeding wildlife is both illegal and dangerous!

Recently, a little girl was pulled into the water while sitting on the bull rail on the public sales float, after her parents had been trying to get the animal’s attention as seen in this video, which has since gone viral. Thankfully, it appears that nobody was hurt during the incident. However, we wish to reiterate that Steveston Harbour Authority does NOT condone the feeding of any wildlife within the harbour. In addition to it being potentially dangerous, as seen in the video above, it is also in contravention of Section 7 of the Federal Fisheries Act and Marine Mammal Regulations which states “No person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing for marine mammals under the authority of these Regulations”.

Also, keep in mind that feeding wildlife can also be extremely detrimental to the animals themselves, as they may learn to associate humans with an easy source of food, which can lead to them not being able to successfully secure food in the wild.

For the sake of your own safety and for the safety of the animals themselves, do not feed the wildlife!

New Sales Float Soft Opening (May 11, 2017)

At long last, our newly revamped public fish sales float will be open to the public and to fishers selling their catch as of Thursday, May 11th, 2017. However, although the main finger running north / south will be open, the rest of the float will still be closed while the remaining services (power and water) are run. Please see the attached diagram for a map of the area.

Once the float is fully operational and all the services have been run, we will be having a grand opening, so keep your eyes on our news page to get more details as they come in.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the SHA main office at 604-272-5539.

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Lost Fishing Gear Best Practice Framework

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) has recently completed its Best Practice Framework for mitigating lost fishing gear globally. The framework covers all aspects of the seafood chain from gear manufacturers, to fishers, to government regulators, to the seafood supply chain, so it’s a very extensive document. The Global Ghost Gear Initiative would very much appreciate feedback from all sources, so if you have an interest in providing feedback on this extremely important issue, please go this page on the Global Ghost Gear Initiative web site.

The GGGI will also be having a side event to promote the Best Practice Framework and answer any related questions. This event will be held at the SeaWeb Summit in Seattle on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 from 12:00 – 13:15. Click here for more information.

Ensia.com Article

Steveston Harbour Authority was featured yesterday in an article by Ensia.com – “an independent, nonprofit magazine presenting new perspectives on environmental challenges and solutions to a global audience.”

The article was centred on the issue of lost fishing gear, and Steveston Harbour Authority’s net recycling program was featured as one part of the solution to the problem.

You can see the full article on Ensia’s website by clicking here.

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Richmond News Article (Sales Float)

The Richmond News recently featured Steveston Harbour Authority and the installation of the new public sales float complex on the front page! The link to the article can be found here.

The new sales float facility should be open to the public in mid-April, 2017. It will be a world class facility, so we encourage fishers to take advantage of it and for the public to come down and purchase some of the freshest seafood available!

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2017 Herring Fishery

The 2017 herring / roe fishery is in full swing and going strong! Pacific herring, particularly in the Strait of Georgia, are in great shape and are among the healthiest herring stocks on the coast. Here are some photos and video of herring being unloaded at the Steveston Seafood Auction.

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Steveston Community Mural Complete

18 Months after the initial concept of creating a mural on Steveston Harbour Authority’s public washroom building on 3rd Ave & Bayview, the project is finally complete, and it was definitely worth the wait!

The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston Historical Society, Richmond Arts Coalition and Steveston Harbour Authority collaborated to have mural artist Victoria Oginski, who created the first portion of the mural in 2015, to complete the installation, adding 7 new panel murals that wrap around the entire exterior of the building. The murals visually tell the story of Steveston’s fishing past and present in a vibrant display that encourages people to explore the artwork and get engaged with Steveston’s rich history.

This celebration of fishing, the industry that built Steveston and continues to drive it today, is a fitting reminder of the importance of this area to so many different people and cultures.

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No. 1 Road Dredging

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After 20 long years, thanks to a joint funding commitment from the BC government, the City of Richmond and Steveston Harbour Authority, the sediment hump at the foot of No. 1 Road – which lies in a jurisdictional “no man’s land” and has been restricting tidal access to fishing vessels attempting to access No. 1 Road Pier for many years – is being dredged.

Many thanks to MLA John Yap and Mayor Malcolm Brodie for your support of our vibrant and active commercial fishing industry!

Rate Changes

Please be advised that the Steveston Harbour Authority Board of Directors has changed the rates for several services effective January 1, 2017. Rates affected include:

  • Berthage (non-CFV)
  • Shore power (monthly / annual)
  • Lockers
  • Repair yard (both CFV and non-CFV)
  • Ice (non-CFV / ton, all totes)
  • Independent contractor license
  • Boat ramp (launch and lift only)

For a complete list of our rates with these new adjustments shown, click here.