LETTER – A rerun of the East Coast cod disaster

There are few internet resources as good as YouTube to forcibly remind you of a historical event which is relevant to today.

In 1992, the Canadian fisheries minister, John Crosby, angrily reminded protesting cod fisherman in Newfoundland that “I didn’t take the fish from the [expletive] water.”

A pretty dramatic moment, still available on YouTube. Sadly, future YouTubers will probably be able to watch yet another Canadian fisheries minister state the same fact to future West Coast salmon fishers.

I think that any truthful and honest observer knows the answer to the current salmon crisis on the West Coast. The entire fishery has to be shut down for a few cycles. Better we take the hit now or lose it all in the future. It is as simple as that.

For me, this slow-motion disaster movie started in the late ’80s with the loss of the Columbia River white chinook run that congregated around Kitty Coleman and Bates Beach on Vancouver Island.

The fish were there to feed on massive herring shoals consuming the shrimp and plankton that was in that area. The tide coming from the north Island meeting with the tide coming from the south end of the Island would create the right conditions for all this abundance of marine life to bloom. In the latter part of May, travelling north on Highway 19 (now 19A), you could smell these fish in the water, there were so many of them. These chinook would migrate from Johnstone Strait into the Strait of Georgia. Fishing them was fairly straightforward. In a few hours, the average angler could get two or three 20- to 30-pounders and go home happy. Those fish were there for about a month before heading to their spawning grounds in the Columbia River. That fishing experience was typical of thousands of fish runs up and down the coast, which are now just a memory. Gone, all gone. The few remaining runs which are left now will be just a memory too, like Atlantic cod, unless drastic action is taken.

Fred Fern,


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Cumberland keeps pushing for groundwater protection

Council will raise issue with Province again through Union of BC Municipalities

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Cumberland wants more done to stop drug deaths

Motions include writing Dr. Bonnie Henry, holding naloxone workshop

Courtenay theatre gets support for livestream ‘hybrid’ shows this year

Island Coastal Economic Trust funds help Sid Williams Theatre with infrastructure, training

Military police training in Comox Valley

Latest quarterly session for training is July 6-8

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

PHOTOS: GP Vanier Grad

Some submitted photos from the 2020 grad celebrations at GP Vanier in Courtenay

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read