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Irvin Johansen was born and raised in Prince Rupert, the son of Scandinavian immigrant fishers. A man of many talents but a single passion, Irv was never happier than when he was fishing. Growing up on Hornby Island didn’t leave his son Steve with much else to do other than to spend time with his Dad on the fishboat which suited the youngster to a tee. As a teenager, Steve was a popular crewman with his pick of deckhand jobs which enabled him to quickly pull together enough money to buy his own fishing vessel.
At the tender age of 14, Paul Chauvel ran away from a remote country town at the edge of the Australian outback, jumped on a ship and then spent the next several years as a merchant mariner before disembarking in Canada to become a fisherman. With a love of the sea, he raised two boys who shared their father’s joy of fishing and followed in his footsteps. Elder son Dane used his fishing income to fund an education that led to a career outside of the industry. When he inherited his father’s boat, he decided to hang on to it so that he could spend the summer months fishing the remote British Columbia coast with his own boys.
Steve’s and Dane’s fathers not only shared their love of the ocean and everything associated with it but warned of the irretrievable damage that would occur if it wasn’t harvested responsibly. They saw the threat that large scale, industrial seafood production presented to the sustainability of the resource and the wellbeing of the coastal communities which relied upon the fisheries.
The call to stop talking about it and do something happened for me in 2008 after I successfully exited my corporate career and with good friend and fisherman, Steve Johansen, created Organic Ocean with two overriding objectives in mind. First, we wanted to create a supply chain for ourselves and our fishing colleagues that would get the finest quality, sustainably harvested seafood to consumers with minimal handling and in the shortest time from bait to plate possible. Second, we wanted to do what we could to draw attention to the plight of the seafood industry in Canada – indeed the world – because of uncontrolled industrial-level harvesting practices which were not paying anywhere near the full cost of their operation. I have had the privilege to serve on several high-level industry organizations which has given me the opportunity to seek political support for our industry. We also realized that we need to heighten community awareness of what is happening and one of the best ways to do that would be to deliver real, natural seafood so the community could taste the difference. The last thing we wanted to happen was a conversation between a grandparent and her grandchildren in 50 years time, along the lines of “I can remember when I was your age we used to eat wild salmon that my Dad barbequed on a cedar plank and it was the most amazing meal you could imagine. I’m disappointed that our generation has denied you the opportunity to enjoy the same experience.”
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