Investigation into death of Port Alberni fisherman continues
Sarah Reid, CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, September 5, 2019 6:54PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, September 6, 2019 8:23AM PDT
Investigators are probing the death of a Port Alberni fisherman who died Wednesday morning after getting caught in his fishing net.
Son Ho, a 61-year-old father of four who lives in Surrey, was remembered by his daughter as "an honest and loving person."
RCMP say Ho wasn't wearing a lifejacket, and was alone on his boat, which is named Sharron-Lynn after one of his daughters.
According to Port Alberni RCMP, the incident occurred in the early hours of Sept. 4 on the waters of the Alberni Inlet.
Police say that dozens of commercial vessels in the area saw the lone fisherman on his ship fall into the water and into a net cast from his boat.
Nearby fishermen immediately came to his aid and tried to pull him from the water but the rescue was made difficult by the weight of the catch in his net, police said.
The man was then brought to shore and given first aid by a BC Ambulance team. However, all efforts to revive the man were "ultimately unsuccessful," police said.
Investigators say the vessel the fisherman was aboard is registered under his name in Surrey.
Police say the incident is not considered suspicious at this time. The RCMP, BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC continue to investigate.
"My Dad was an honest, hardworking and beautiful person who cared so much for those around him," said one of Ho's daughters.
"He gave all he could to those around him and never asked for anything in return. He taught us how to be good people through his actions. We love him so much and we all miss him with all of our hearts."
Although considered risky to fish alone, local fishermen say it isn’t uncommon.
"You don't want to hire a guy and not make him any money," said a Port Alberni fisherman.
It's also a matter of cutting costs, this season has been slow and many fishermen say they can't afford to pay a deckhand.
"We don't get paid a lot we don't get a lot of hours, so a lot of guys don't have deck hands, they just take the risk."
People going out on small vessels are not required to fish in pairs, but RCMP say it wishes they would, and local fishermen agree.
"It's very risky," said local fisherman, Stewart Kennedy. "When you're there by yourself, there's no one out there to pull you out of the water."
Fishermen say the regulations in place, are enough to keep people safe, but say that they need to be followed.
Worksafe B.C. has recently updated its regulations and now requires everyone to wear a PFD when onboard. Fish Safe B.C. says wearing a life jacket can often give someone enough time for help to arrive.
"At the end of the day it is a matter of personal accountability," said Ryan Ford, program manager for Fish Safe B.C.
"Fisherman from the deckhand to the master have to make their own decisions."