Growing up in Ucluelet, for Captain Paul Edwards, fishing is the family business. As a third-generation fisherman, seven of his eight siblings have also worked in the commercial fishing industry. For the past thirty-four years, Paul has been fishing Dungeness crab on the Hecate Strait with his wife Noella and their three sons all taking a turn fishing with him. And for the past two years, his nephew has been co-captain of the Sea Harvest while his granddaughter occasionally hops into the holding tanks to help offload the boat, risking the wrath of a thousand pinching claws.
When asked what his favourite part about fishing is, Paul says, “All three of my kids have worked with me on the boat. Teaching them how to fish, respect for the ocean and work ethic are all my favourite moments”.
Tell us about your boat!
The Sea Harvest was built in Parksville, BC, in 1980 as a salmon and herring packer. It has your typical 871 Detroit Diesel engine with 300 horsepower. We just added the top house in 2020.
How long have you been commercial fishing?
Fifty-five years. I started trolling for salmon with my grandfather when I was young and then went on to fish halibut with my father.
What other fisheries are you involved in?
Salmon, halibut, herring gillnet, prawns and black cod trap and longline.
What do you love about being a commercial fisherman?
The independence. Also, most people work their whole lives just so that they can retire and go fishing.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The politics. Fishing is the easy part. Trying to stay ahead of the politics is now the hardest part of fishing.
What’s it like fishing with your family?
Fishing with my family was always positive. I have been a deckhand for my brothers, dad and grandfather. My brothers and all of my sons have fished with me over my career.
Any advice for young people entering the industry?
Work on getting enough sea time and training to continue to work in Canada’s marine industry jobs.
What’s your favourite way to cook Dungeness crab?
Barbequed. Once you have killed and cleaned your crab, separate the legs from the body. Put the crab on tinfoil and pour a quarter pound of butter on top with some garlic or black bean sauce. Double wrap it all in tinfoil and then throw it on the barbecue.