Gillnetter Caught and Dragged by Ferry Off Nanaimo

By The Maritime Executive 10-26-2018 06:31:48

On Wednesday, a small fishing boat had a dangerous run-in with the B.C. Ferries vessel Queen of Alberni when the ferry snagged its net and dragged it backwards. 

That afternoon, the Alberni was making a routine run from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo when she encountered a flotilla of dozens of small commercial fishing boats, all gillnetting for chum. The boats were in a designated ferry channel and blocked the Alberni's progress, according to B.C. Ferries. A passenger, Tricia Bryant, told CTV that the crew "had to weave the ferry boat in between these small fishing vessels." 

At some point, the ferry snagged a submerged net, and the boat attached to the other end was suddenly pulled stern-first at six knots. This hazardous situation continued for about ten seconds, until the net parted. "I was just anxious and thinking 'cut the net or you're gonna go under,'" said Bryant.

The ferry reversed to clear the remains of the net, then proceeded to its destination. No injuries were reported. 

B.C. Ferries called on fishermen to obey regulations regarding ferry lanes. "Ferry travel lanes should not be obstructed, and the lanes past Entrance Island are clearly marked,” said spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. “We appreciate that [fishermen] have a job to do, they are trying to make a living, but do stay clear of the ferry.”

Andrew Thomson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada's regional director of fisheries management, told Global News Canada that 130 gillnetting boats had signed up for this year's chum opening. One other net contact incident and one near miss had occurred in the same area this week, he said.  

Marshall confirmed that a second ferry, the Queen of Oak Bay, made contact with a net in the same area on Thursday.