WATCH: Anglers around BC are being urged to report any foreign objects they find in their catches. This comes after two Chilliwack fishermen discovered bits of plastic and garbage inside of the steelhead they hooked last week. Jeremy Hunka reports.
Jordan Butt has been fishing the Vedder River for years, but what he saw on February 13 after catching a steelhead was a first.
“I hooked a seemingly normal fish, it was a good eating-sized fish,” he says. “I noticed there was a gravelly feeling inside…I started scooping it out, and it was just piece of plastic after piece of plastic.”
“Disgusted is the only way I can say it. It was so unnatural, to see a fish feeding on something that would inevitably kill it.”
Dr. Peter Ross from the Vancouver Aquarium stresses that it’s just one incident and they haven’t received similar reports. But he says it’s concerning nonetheless.
“This has got to be one of the most disturbing pictures I’ve seen in a long time,” he says.
“It poses a very significant question, and that is to what extent is this representative of what is happening out there in the ocean? To what extent are salmon picking up pieces of plastic?”
Ross says the concern is fish are mistaking pieces of plastic for food.
“What we have to do is figure out where these plastics are coming from, why they’re getting in the ocean, how we can stem the flow of those products in the ocean,” he says.
It came as no surprise to Chris Gadsden of the Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Coalition.
“Unfortunately, we pick things like this all the time,” he said, adding they’ve done 43 cleanups since they were founded last decade, picking up 95 metric tons of waste from river beds and shorelines.
“People really got to think of this when they throw a pop can or plastic any material, it’s going to end up in the ocean in the matter of time.”
Butt is hopeful the strange experience won’t be repeated.
“I’m not exactly a scientist, but I would figure if you start seeing more and more cases of this, you’re going to see mortality rates jump.”