WATCH: Tricia Bryant captured video of the boat that got its fishing net snagged on a ferry on Oct. 24, 2018.
A fishing boat off of Nanaimo was dragged backward Wednesday after the Queen of Alberni ferry snagged a partially submerged fishing net.
Ferry corporation spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the Queen of Alberni was travelling between the mainland and Duke Point, south of Nanaimo, when it caught a net near Entrance Island.
Marshall said about 75 boats were taking part in a fisheries opening in the area and although the captain slowed the ferry to ensure safe passage, one net was poorly marked and became fouled in the ship’s propeller.
Tricia Bryant was travelling on the ferry and recorded a video from a side window as soon as the fishing net got snagged and the ferry’s engine was turned off.
“It was scary,” Bryant said.
Bryant said she was worried for both the fishermen and the BC Ferries crew who were trying to untangle the net.
“I was thinking the boat was going to get sucked under the ferry,” Bryant said, adding that she also thought it may capsize.
“I’ve never seen someone have no disregard for their own safety or the ferries.”
She also said none of the other dozens of fishing boats in the area seemed to want to move for the ferry and the Queen of Alberni had to weave around the small fishing vessels.
“It’s a safety hazard,” Bryant said.
However, Bryant praised the BC Ferries crew for responding quickly and letting the passengers know what was going on over the PA system.
No one was hurt and the propeller was not damaged but Marshall said the small boat that set the net was towed backward by the ferry until the line between the boat and the net snapped.
She said the captain freed the remains of the net by reversing the ferry and the ship continued on to Nanaimo, about 20 minutes behind schedule.
Ferry travel lanes should not be obstructed and Marshall says the lanes past Entrance Island are clearly marked.
“We appreciate that (fishing crews) have a job to do, they are trying to make a living, but do stay clear of the ferry,” Marshall said.
BC Ferries said it would speak to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) about the snag. DFO said Thursday that the boats have been used to fish for chum from the Nanaimo River for the past two days and there have been three net entanglements within the last 48 hours in the waters near Nanaimo. The commercial chum fishery open will close Thursday evening.
Andrew Thomson, regional director of the Fisheries Management Branch, said DFO officers are examining how the fleet is operating in the area and are talking to industry contacts to remind fishermen to keep clear of shipping lanes.
“It’s quite unusual. This fishery has gathered significant more attention or number of vessels than normal,” Thomson said.
“Normally for a Nanaimo River or a Nanaimo area chum fishery opening, we would see in the neighbourhood of 30 to 40 vessels. The fishery being one of the few chum opportunities in the Strait of Georgia has gathered a greater number of vessels.”
Thomson said there are approximately 130 vessels from that have gathered for the fish opportunity.
“There is some level of danger of people are not appropriately managing their nets and managing the location of where they are placing the nets and also for those vessels in transit not managing the navigation appropriately.”
According to DFO, the ferry catching the fishing net and towing the fishing vessel did not contravene the Fisheries Act.
But DFO also said if a safe and orderly fishery cannot be maintained, they will take steps to close the fishery.
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC