In the early 1980s, Jason’s family immigrated to Canada via Hong Kong from a small village in Vietnam as his father fled the war. His uncle was already fishing in Canada, so Jason’s father partnered on a boat before acquiring his own Dungeness crab license in 1996 when Jason was just seven years old. Every summer growing up, Jason would help his father on the boat. For the Voongs, crab fishing has always been a mom-and-pop business, with his mother being a full-time deckhand until Jason graduated high school. It has also become a family business as of the approximately thirty of his friends from the same village who have immigrated, 20 are crab fishermen.
Jason says, “I grew very engaged in helping with the family business of crab fishing, which led me to my career as a crab fisherman. After twenty-three years, I am now proudly the second generation of crab fishermen in our family”.
Tell us a bit about your boat!
My father started with a little 25’x12’ foot aluminum boat fabricated by Jerry Takashima in 1996. He named the boat after my mother, Lan Ho. The boat was powered by a 200 hp Volvo Sterndrive, and they fished out of Boundary Bay for six years before my father moved the boat to Tofino in 2003.
In 2020, the team at JR Marine built us a brand new 32 foot aluminum boat. We needed to be faster and more efficient to compete in our area. We named it Lan Ho II, and it’s equipped with a 650 hp Scania on a straight shaft and propeller.
How long have you been commercial fishing for?
My mom and dad would take me with them to work on the boat during the summertime throughout my childhood, but I’ve been working full-time with my dad since I was 18 years old.
What do you love about being a commercial fisherman?
I love the challenge in testing theories. Fishing is definitely not always easy. There’s a very steep learning curve, but every fisherman will tell you that persistence will always prevail. I love working hard and seeing results. It is very rewarding being able to provide delicious, sustainably caught crab to the world. I love the fast-paced environment it brings, and being on your toes at all times because you might not make it back to port.
What is it like to fish with your family?
It’s been great working with my dad for the past 14 years. It’s definitely brought our relationship closer, and he’s become one of my best friends.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Being away from my family for long periods of time.
Any advice for young people entering the industry?
Take the time to learn safe practices, and get official certifications such as small vessel operator proficiency, marine emergency duties, and radio communications. This will give you knowledge that will last you a lifetime.
What’s your favourite way to cook Dungeness crab?
Steamed with garlic oil.