Fish boat runs aground, captain arrested

Fishing boat had run aground just south of Kelsey Bay in Johnstone Strait

An American skipper was arrested Monday on suspicion of impaired operation of a vessel after his fishing boat ran aground near Kelsey Bay and his remaining crew tried to abandon ship.

“It’s definitely an unusual circumstance,” said Staff Sgt. Troy Beauregard of the Campbell River RCMP. “It’s fortunate no one was injured or killed.”

According to Coast Guard spokesman Dan Bates, they received report at 4:20 a.m. Monday of a fishing boat that had run aground just south of Kelsey Bay in Johnstone Strait.

The 58-foot American vessel Arline was heading south when it ran aground and the two remaining crew members apparently tried to abandon ship. Conditions may have been foggy at the time.

There was also a third crew member, but he got off the boat the previous night in Port Hardy due to illness. Bates said Coast Guard was called to assist in that incident as well, but would not elaborate on the details.

After the Mayday call went out early Monday, several boats in the immediate area came to assist, followed later by the Coast Guard lifeboat Cape Palmerston out of Campbell River.

The two remaining crew were safely evacuated and the captain was escorted to Campbell River while Coast Guard towed his boat.

Awaiting the captain at the docks in Campbell River were Mounties, Canadian Border Services, Transport Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Police arrested the captain on suspicion of impaired operation of a motor vessel and dangerous operation of a motor vessel.

The 60-year-old skipper from Washington State was later released from custody and delivered into the hands of Border Services. Transport Canada was there to investigate the grounding while a Fisheries officer inspected the vessel’s hold.

“There was a catch issue,” said Staff Sgt. Beauregard.

The skipper’s name was not released.