At council earlier this month concerns were raised about the fishing season based on the low water usage of the Canadian Fishing Company plant and Rob Morley, the vice-president of production and corporate development for Canfisco, says those concerns weren’t necessarily unfounded.
“I would say the season was a little disappointing…We probably didn’t process as much fish as last year, but the season isn’t quite over yet,” he said, noting that there remains the possibility of an opening off the waters of Haida Gwaii and some groundfish processing to be done as a result of Ocean Fish and Canfisco consolidating operations last summer .
“We didn’t get as many Pink Salmon in the north as we had last year.”
According to Joy Thorkelson of the United Fishermen and Allied Worker’s Union, most in the industry were feeling good about the season until the end of July, when the hours started going down instead of up. The result of the disappointing season will have a significant impact on some, she said.
“It has definitely impacted the number of hours they have had. People who had finally crawled onto EI in the last few years will be off it again this year,” said Thorkelson in regards to the number of hours needed to qualify for EI.
As well, Thorkelson said the union is hoping that groundfish and rumours that Canfisco is looking to move the canning of some chum from Johnstone Strait to Prince Rupert will help those in the community.
“We’re hoping they find enough pollock to get into pollock processing, which is something they had agreed to do…We’re hoping they can find 600,000 pounds of pollock,” said Thorkelson
“We’re hoping there will be enough fish found to bump some over the needed EI hours and make up for some of the loss, definitely for the senior members.”
For his part, Morley said it is important to note that the lower processing levels this year don’t necessarily equate to any type of downturn in the fishery or a reduction in processing planned for the north coast.
“Even years are always lower. With the cycle of the Pink Salmon, the higher numbers are in the odd years so we are hopeful that next year will be better,” he said.
“This is a reflection on the number of fish available on the north this year.”