Fish farm vessel didn’t change course when warned of orcas in its path: tour operator

A group of whale watchers in Clayoquot Sound were shocked to see a large boat used in the fish farm industry getting a little too close to a pod of orcas. This video captured on June 26 shows just how close the ship got to the whales.

A commercial fishing vessel did not change course when it was warned of a pod of orcas in its path near Meares Island, said a tour operator based out of Tofino.

Oren Lawson of Ocean Outfitters Tofino Adventures shot cell phone video of the Doennalaks, which was operated by Greig Seafood BC, of the boat travelling over the waters of Clayoquot Sound before, according to him, it approached a pod of transient orcas.

“I called them on channel 16, the coast guard channel,” he told Global News.

“They responded and I recommended they either change course or slow the boat down.”

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But the boat didn’t change its direction.

And that had Satchel Robertson, also of Ocean Outfitters, disturbed.

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“The captain of the vessel proceeded to basically continue at a speed at its current bearing and then ran right over top of the killer whales. It was a hard scene to watch,” he said.

READ MORE: Noisy Navy is letting off blasts too close to orcas, Victoria whale watchers say

The orcas resurfaced a few minutes later.

“He could have definitely slowed down or at least gone into neutral and waited it out,” said Robertson.

Rocky Boschmann, managing director at Greig Seafood BC, said the vessel’s crew handled the situation well, given the circumstances.

He said they were navigating a confined space.

“There were whales to one side of the vessel and there were vessels to the other side of the ship as it came into this area, and DFO and the crew feel at no time did they endanger wildlife or other vessels,” Boschmann said.

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Robertson said Fisheries and Oceans should treat the encounter as a close call.

“Maybe you should all get more resources down and have more people on the water,” he said.

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“More eyes… because there’s very little enforcement.”

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