Joel Johnson Sr. is a First Nation member in Guilford Village, Vancouver, BC.


In your long-lining, you're picking up halibut that are full of lice. Could you tell us about that?

I've been long-lining for a few years. I could drop a jigger anywhere to catch fish. Now, we go up and down where the fish farms are mostly located and drop the long-line here and there. I tried across here where the fish farm was sitting, and down here a little ways. I sat my lines for about two or three hours and they came up full of sea lice on my halibut. So, we had to skin our halibut to eat them. We tried some trolling. We caught some fish with sea lice on them, and that was down past the fish farms.

I figure they're making a big impact on this place. It's not just the beaches; I think it's also the water bottoms, that is, the bottom of the ocean. I used to clam dig here for over twenty years now. We used to go and get fifteen to twenty boxes a night, and now we're lucky to get four or five boxes. The beach has been closed down for areas where the fish farms are, or rather, were. They have a lot of areas that we have. If we're clam digging, we have boats like my little boat here, we go an hour drive to go clam digging and come back in the rain. But it's just because our areas are contaminated.

Did you ever used to find lice on fish in the past?

When I used to long-line in my earlier days, when I was twenty years old, my uncle and I used to go and get halibut. I used to leave my line out for six hours and catch lots of fish. Now I can't even leave it out for three hours, because they're full of sea lice. It was never like that. These days we can't go anywhere and catch too much fish.

Does it have something to do with the farms being there?

It's something to do with what they're eating. I see the way the fish farms feed, because I used to work in a fish farm. I see the mess that comes out of the bottom of the nets, since we clean out nets that have fish that have been dead for a few days.