Captain of the F/V Semi R

Port Edward

Luong’s family came to Canada in 1979 from Vietnam after being sponsored by a family in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. In 1988, right after the Calgary Olympics, Luong’s dad decided to move up to Prince Rupert to work as a commercial fisherman, as two years prior his brother had done the same. That’s where it all started.

Home Port: Port Edward, BC

Tell us a bit about your boat!

It’s from Newfoundland and was brought over by train by the previous owner. He named the boat Semi R, meaning Semi retired, when he fully retired he sold the boat. It’s a wood and fiberglass boat with a 280 HP Izuzu inboard motor.

How long have you been commercial fishing for? 

I started fishing around eight or nine. Jeeze, sometimes I didn’t make it to school because I had to help my family on the boat. I had homework all the time, but I did that after work. I was in school maybe three days a week, is my guess, and working with my dad the rest. 

My dad broke his arm when I was 15 years old, and he had nobody to run the boat, so I just took it and ran it, and I’ve been running it ever since. He didn’t think I could do it, and it was slow at first, but it turned out all right. In 2015 I bought my own boat, the Semi R.

What other fisheries are you involved in?

 I run the Pubnico Gemini, a geoduck packer once in a while. We do trips all the way from Haida Gwaii down to Port Hardy. I used to gillnet salmon. We fished from the Skeena River all the way down to the Fraser and San Juan before the salmon fleet was rationalized and area based licenses were brought into place.

Do other members of your family fish?

My uncle fishes with me, and I’ve got my wife’s brother on board with me, too. I have Eugene Sherry. He’s from Kitkatla. He’s not related, but he’s pretty much like family. He’s been working with me for about 17 years now. My mom’s brother and sister moved up here and they started prawn fishing. So pretty much my mom’s family and my dad’s family are all fishermen. My dad still runs his boat the Fantasy. 

What do you love about being a commercial fisherman? 

I love being my own boss, the ocean, a nice breeze. Nobody to tell you what to do. All the nature you get to see out there – the killer whales, schools of dolphins, and all the people you meet on the ocean. It’s a place where you meet new people all the time.

Being able to gift seafood is sometimes the best part about fishing. You get to see guys stop by at the boat. They’re from Alberta or from Nova Scotia. They come by, they’re interested. I ask “you guys want to have a couple?”. It makes their day, it makes their trip.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is waking up every day, taking the risk of whether you’re going to be coming home or not. I lost my brother in 2003 on my dad’s boat, just in front of the Skeena. We didn’t recover him. It’s always in my head.

I think it was 2019, one of my deckhand’s was working with me, and him and Eugene were on board. We were fishing, and all of a sudden he jumped over a rope, and the rope caught his foot and just took him straight down in the water. We were in the mouth of the Skeena, the tide was running strong.  Once we got him on board, Eugene ran inside and grabbed a blanket and cut his clothes off to keep him warm. We were doing CPR for at least five to 10 minutes – left, right, center. We saved his life, but I had nightmares for a year or two. It’s life and death. It just happens instantly and you’ve got to react right away. You got to know what to do. 

Any advice for young people entering the industry? 

Just Be Safe. Always watch your back and always be aware. Being on a boat, everything comes down to safety first. 

What’s your favourite way to cook Dungeness crab?

Crab and cream. You cook the crab in the shell with the cream, you stir fry it and then you have the noodles there ready to pour it on top. You can have it with pretty much whatever you like.

Luong is featured in this episode of Your Nation’s Table

This project is supported by the BC Government’s Buy BC Partnership Program; delivered by MNP LLP with funding from the Government of British Columbia.

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