A Nanaimo-bound ferry couldn’t completely avoid a flotilla of fishing boats yesterday afternoon.
The B.C. Ferries vessel got tangled in a net Wednesday at 4:50 p.m. on Wednesday. The Queen of Alberni ferry, travelling from Tsawwassen to Duke Point terminal, encountered a contingent of vessels, according to Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries’ spokeswoman.
“At 4:50 p.m., the ship was just off of Entrance Island,” said Marshall. “There was approximately 75 fishing vessels all in the area, so the Alberni slowed down to about six knots to try to safely navigate through all these fishing vessels. There was one fishing vessel with poorly marked netting and so the crew on the [Alberni] did not see the netting and it did get tangled in our propeller.”
Marshall said the ship “went to stern,” and it appears as if the line snapped. There was no damage to the Queen of Alberni and no reports of any injuries, she said.
Ferry crew tried to contact the fishing vessel, but there was no response, said Marshall, and the incident has been reported to the Canadian ministry of fisheries and oceans.
The route is one that sees frequent ferry traffic with vessels travelling through the area 365 days a year, said Marshall, and crews operate ferries in a “defensive manner.”
“There’s certainly rules of the road, but you never know if the other vessels are going to obey them, so we certainly try to be defensive when we’re operating and we would hope that other boaters respect the rules of the road,” Marshall said.
Marshall said B.C. Ferries appreciates fisherman are trying to make a living, but suggests they try to avoid ferry routes.
According to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada statement, there has been an ongoing commercial chum salmon opening for Nanaimo River the past two days, with more vessels gathering than expected, likely due to this being one of the few opportunities for chum this year for Vancouver Island.
Three incidents of fishing activity inferfering with B.C. Ferries and other vessels have been reported in the last 48 hours. With yesterday’s incident, there won’t be an investigation because the fishing vessels haven’t contravened the Fisheries Act, the ministry said.
Fishing boats have been made aware they need to stay away from navigational channels and manage nets to ensure they don’t impede marine traffic. People have also been reminded of the importance of properly marking nets in order to make them visible.
The fishery is set to close at 8 p.m. tonight, Oct. 25, said the ministry.