Six citizens of the Haida Nation are ready to “hit the water running” with a commercial fishery in their traditional territory, after having successfully obtained their Commercial SCUBA Restricted Surface Supply Certifications here in Campbell River.
Graduates of DiveSafe International’s commercial diving courses, the six members of the Massett band are already finding employment in Vancouver Island’s burgeoning aquaculture industry. They’re also hopeful that, someday soon, they’ll be able to use their newly learned skills to harvest geoducks from the waters surrounding Haida Gwaii.
“The training and certification these students received isn’t just a boon to them professionally,” explains Kelly Korol, DiveSafe International’s owner and Director of Training. “It could also be vital to the economy of the Massett band.”
For years now, interested parties have been lobbying the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to open up new geoduck harvesting areas along the coast. While delays and red tape have been the order of the day, the certification of this group of divers is seen as a positive step in a sometimes-frustrating process.
“I was really impressed with all the students’ eagerness and enthusiasm during the course,” notes Korol. “Not only does the particular dive certification required for geoduck aquaculture require a certain amount of skill, it also takes commitment and diligence, which they all consistently demonstrated.”
Korol says his company is pleased to be involved in helping the Massett band further develop its aquaculture opportunities and contribute to its local economy.
“It’s exciting for us to be able to play a small part in their new venture,” he says. “It’s also gratifying to know that while they wait for legislation to come through from DFO, these men will be able to take advantage of their new skills and find steady, high-paying employment elsewhere in this growing field.”
Several of the Haida Gwaii grads have already lined up work with a Comox Valley-based geoduck farm, notes Korol.
For information on upcoming diving courses, visit www.divesafe.com or call 250-287-3837.
Jesse Williams makes a new friend while training with DiveSafe International in Campbell River.