At about 9:30am on May 5, 11, we had a distress call come across the radio on channel 16a (Coast Guard Channel). I was listening to the radio and quickly realized that the vessel in distress was close by. John Macarenko and I decided that we better make tracks and respond to the vessel in distress. I made the radio call to Comox Coast Guard and let them know of our location and that we were on our way to the location announced over the radio of the vessel in distress. We found the boat between Humphrey Rock and Doctor Islet in a little bay very close to shore. The prawn boat Lasqueti Knight had lost her power and was anchored up but was very close to the shore and with the tide going out would have been on the rocks in no time. Mike Buttle must have been listening in on the radio as well, he had shown up on location shortly behind us. We made the decision that his boat would be a much better boat for towing rather then the Sterling II. Mike towed the Lasqueti Knight over to Doctor Islet where we introduced ourselves to the very thankful Skipper and his crew. Mike had made arrangements to have a mechanic brought out and soon after the prawn boat Lasqueti Knight was back on her way to sea. All in all it was a good day and we made some new friends. Submitted by Anker Bach, Site Manager, Humphrey Rock
June 21, 2011
It was 1988. Calgary was basking in the afterglow of being an Olympic City and in an attempt to be on the cutting edge of fashion, people wore their acid wash jeans while watching “A Fish Called Wanda” in theatres. And for Fitz Lee, it was the beginning of a new chapter not only in his life but in the fledgling aquaculture industry as well.
“I was working for McMillan Fisheries in Vancouver, designing and building tanks for crabs and lobsters that were sold in restaurants. Then they asked me to get involved with the building of what was then called Big Tree Creek hatchery.” said Fitz recently from his home on Saltspring Island.
Following this successful project, Fitz became interested in the ocean rearing stage of raising fish.
“Don Sinclair and I jumped into a boat at Kesley Bay and hunted down the site. We wanted something that had good flushing and water flow and also some protection from the weather.” he said. McMillan Fisheries was already involved in aquaculture by then and Fitz knew from their experiences on the Sunshine Coast that good currents were key to a successful site.
“I dove the site more than once after it was established and didn’t see evidence of any farming activity. There were no traces of feed.” said Fitz.
Don and Fitz found what they were looking for on West Thurlow Island, near the bottom of Wellbore Channel. Fitz would spend “the best years of my life” on the site he chose to bear his family name.
Approval of the paperwork took roughly a year and a half. They dealt with the provincial lands branch for the lease, Fisheries and Oceans for the aquaculture permit, and the Coast Guard, who gave them the okay to locate in the channel.
When it came time to put fish into the water in May 1988, coho were chosen. “It was a bit of an experiment.”explained Fitz. The first year they had about 200,000 fish. The fish were processed at Brown’s Bay, which McMillan then partially owned.
Fitz’s family, including a one year old and a four year old, lived on-site in a float house that was brought on site from Cortez Island. He also built the crew quarters for the two shifts of four employees he hired.
Not only were the accommodations built by hand but so were the first pens. “The wooden pens were built on the beach as we needed them. We had about 18 of them.” said Fitz.
“I remember the weather got pretty wild during the winter. The winds from Loughborough Inlet stretched the chains anchoring the site taut. Nothing got broken but the pens were moved 60 feet.” recalls Fitz.
Fitz and his family left Lee’s Bay in June 1992. “We were doing okay but not making any money and it was time try something different.” McMillan bought the site back from Fitz and through a series of company merges, it eventually became part of the Marine Harvest family of sites.
By Gina Forsyth
June 14, 2011
“I’ve been here more than 15 years and have worked my way up to supervisor.” Winnie commented. I ensure that the count of the fish in the boxes is correct as well as iced, lidded, and strapped properly, she added. After the end of each processing shift, Winnie is also responsible for making sure the hygiene crew follows all SOPs so it’s done according to company policy.
Born in Bella Bella, which is a 20 minute plane ride or a couple of hours by boat from her home in Klemtu, Winnie has four children. Her kids, three girls and a boy, range in age from 19 to 24. She recently welcomed a daughter-in-law to the family and enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren. Winnie is eagerly awaiting another grandchild which will make his or her appearance later this year.
When she’s not at work, Winnie is proud to carry on the tradition of her Kitasoo/Xai’xais band elders and creates a variety of art pieces using cedar bark collected in May and June from local trees. These include fans and dream catchers, and other carefully hand-crafted items.
“I sold 12 cedar placemats to a friend of my uncle’s when he went to China a couple of years ago.” said Winnie proudly, adding with a hearty laugh that she thought about labeling them ‘Made in Klemtu’.
“So much of what we get is made in China so I thought it would make for a nice change.”
Winnie has also learned how to can fish, dry seaweed, and freeze herring eggs from elders and has in turn taught her children traditional Kitasoo/Xai’xais ways.
By Gina Forsyth
June 3, 2011
The use by farm site staff of oxygen probes with data logging technology means that real-time, around the clock data provides them with the information needed to make informed decisions about fish management.
Fish require constant oxygen levels of greater than 70% for optimum growth, said James Rogers, Campbell River South Production Manager. This basic truth of salmon physiology means that a vital element of raising healthy fish needs to be maintaining this key environmental condition.
In previous years, hand-held oxygen meters were used to measure oxygen levels in fish pens. The disadvantage was their limited capacity to provide only a snapshot of what was going on within the pens, as well as providing no information about what was happening at night.
Data loggers, however, are units that are permanently fixed to the side of a net pen and relay water temperature and data related to oxygen levels as well as the percentage of oxygen saturation in the water. The information is transferred via a series of probes to a computer in the on-site office. Basic information is available pen-side, directly from the unit, while more detailed information is logged and accessible through the site’s computer system.
The data is logged into an Excel spreadsheet and can be easily retrieved for any time frame, whether it’s annually, monthly, daily, or hourly. This flexible and thorough method of data collection, along with separate colors for each water probe’s data, means that each pen’s information is captured and available for detailed study at the first sign of potentially worrisome numbers.
This constant flow of information means site staff can be proactive as well as giving them the information required to respond when oxygen levels dip lower than is safe for the fish, said James. An important part of the system is the alarm, which is activated when the oxygen levels in a pen fall below a predetermined level, which can be individually set for each site. This warning has prevented and continues to help prevent fish kills due to low oxygen.
When the information provided by the data loggers shows a drop in oxygen levels, aeration is used, to move water through the pens helping the oxygen levels remain constant, an essential consideration for optimum well-being of the fish.
Activating the diffusers for three to six hours after feeding has also become a common approach to help the fish not only maximize their feed conversion efficiency and to maximize growth, he added.
Every site in the Campbell River area has had the data loggers since last year. The plan is for them to continue to be added company-wide. Craig Sherman installed the first data logger in the CR South area four years ago at Brougham Point.