Thousands of dead salmon discarded in Nanaimo River

Thu. Dec. 8/11
Thousands of dead salmon discarded in Nanaimo River
Daily News
Walter Cordery

Someone has dumped thousands of dead chum salmon in the Nanaimo River at the end of Raines Road in Cedar.

Many of the fish had been filleted and just the head and tail remain but the vast majority of the salmon seem to be intact.

Longtime Nanaimo sports fisherman Eric Barlow said looks can be deceiving.

"Look, the only reason to leave all the meat on them is to take the roe which can be sold for up to $6 to $8 a pound," he said.

This is not the first year Barlow has complained about the dumping of chum at this time of year.

"I've told fisheries officers about it and my friend recently reported it to fisheries but they don't seem to want to do anything about it."

He thinks the fact that the area at the end of Raines Road is on Snuneymuxw First Nation land forces Fisheries Canada officials to turn a blind eye to the dumping.

"This has been a dumping ground for one heck of a long time and it's a waste of food, as far as I'm concerned."

Fisheries officer Tom Pawloski doesn't agree. He said many of the chum salmon have spawned, died and floated back down to the bend in the river at the end of Raines Road.

Pawloski did say that it's obvious that some of the fish had been dumped.

"You can tell because they have been filleted," he said.

Pawloski said fisheries officers patrol that part of the river and he's under no illusion that fish aren't being dumped there because of some other carcasses that are in the same portion of the river.

Pawloski said a deer carcass and elk carcass are also in the river at the same location.

"The Nanaimo (Snuneymuxw) First Nation traditionally use this as a fishing area but they are opposed to wasting fish just as much as we are," said Pawloski.

After the fish have spawned the meat is no good for eating, he said.

So the person who dumped the fish there did not violate any fisheries regulation, said Brenda Spence of Fisheries Canada.

"You can't dump or waste edible portions of fish" but once they have become inedible, the rules aren't as definitive," she said.

Barlow said he's convinced the fish, which have been rotting on the side of the river for a number of days, were used to gather the lucrative roe.

"It's just not right to see this kind of waste," he said.