The discovery at Steveston Harbour of large buckets of what appears to be rotting sockeye salmon has been reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
The Richmond News was made aware on Thursday of the finding of at least four large tote boxes of decomposing salmon, understood to be sockeye.
Jamie Gusto, Steveston Harbour’s general manager, confirmed to the News that two of the buckets were found on a vessel after it received reports due to the smell.
While another two were located “on the compound” of the harbour, after it received reports of the smell from members of the public.
Gusto said the harbour has also received numerous reports of rotting fish on the water inside the harbour walls.
"Heartbreaking" to see buckets of rotting fish
She said the discoveries have been reported to the DFO. The News has reached out to the DFO for comment.
“This hasn’t happened as far as I can remember, but we haven’t had many (sockeye) openings in the last few years,” said Gusto.
“It is heartbreaking to see thousands of dollars’ worth of fish rotting away like this.”
Fishing for sockeye in the Lower Fraser River has been as contentious as ever this summer, with virtually zero openings for commercial fishers.
This year, the sockeye count came in at about 5.5 million fish, as opposed to the 9.8 million that had been expected.
As such, only First Nations in the Lower Fraser River are allowed to fish for food and ceremonial purposes.
The News’ parent company, Glacier Media, published a story last week about a man calling for the DFO to get to the bottom of ongoing illegal poaching and sales of salmon from the Fraser River.
Rodney Hsu, a member of the sport fishing advisory committee in the Fraser Valley, says it’s now an annual occurrence to hear reports of dead salmon tossed along roadsides nearby the river.
Wildlife federation says poaching is rampant
Meanwhile, the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF) has hit out at the apparent discovery of rotting sockeye at Steveston Harbour.
“We are seeing evidence of illegal fish sales all over social media and Craigslist,” said the federation’s executive director Jesse Zeman.
“The BCWF is seeing reports of dumping involving thousands, possibly tens of thousands of fish, which is a symptom of illegal sales on a massive scale,” said Zeman.
“The fish have spoiled suggesting that there are far more fish on the black market than there are buyers.”
Widespread poaching, added Zeman, is “harming us all as dwindling sockeye runs are being pillaged.
“Further, when an unknown number of fish are caught by poachers, we can’t sustainably manage the fishery.”
Zeman claimed that the authorities, such as the DFO, are “hopelessly overmatched to deal with the problem.”