2016 is turning into a banner year for the Island’s fishing industry, as boats haul in some of the best catches they’ve seen in decades.
Fishermen say the low Canadian dollar is also leading to increased demand for our seafood stateside, as it becomes less expensive than elsewhere. That’s translating to a celebratory mood after years of downturn in the industry.
Anyone who’s hung around French Creek’s docks in recent years, can tell there’s something different about this season.
“Absolutely. Best year going,” says a forklift operator.
As tonnes of fish pour from giant fishboats into the hands of waiting packers.
“This has been more than a lot of years,” says Brad McLean of French Creek Seafoods. “The boats are fishing like crazy so every other day he’s coming in with about 200,000 pounds.”
This is a time, these workers would usually be waiting for the herring to come in. Instead they’re rushing off their feet trying to keep up with boats unloading hake.
“Yes real good year. One of the best I guess,” says Captain of fish boat Viking Storm, Mike Fitzpatrick.
It’s thanks in part to that rock bottom Canadian dollar.
“Well the hake and herring are always out there but with this US dollar it’s just making the market better for them so the boats are actually out fishing them,” says McLean.
And the wealth is being spread around. Generous hands throwing treats to a waiting sea lion and gulls below, as a truck unloads thousands of cans of seafood to the nearby Parksville Food Bank.
“This is an incredibly substantial donation for the Salvation Army,” says the Salvation Army’s Lisa Cason. “Having this much protein dropped off to us is just wonderful.”
Hake is being caught in such massive numbers this one fish processing plant has already off loaded 12.5 million pounds of it. Amounts not seen in a decade.
“This looks like this is going to be the biggest year we’ve pumped,” says McLean.
Catches that make fish boat Captain Mike Fitzpatrick glad that he stuck it out in fishing.
“It’s just a nice life right I mean you got your rough days but you got your good days like this still,” says Fitzpatrick.
Days that promise to get even busier, on the waters around Vancouver Island. With little break between, the winter herring fishery is now just weeks from getting started.