First Nation entrepreneur constructs wellboat for Marine Harvest

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James Walkus, a member of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nation, in British Columbia, Canada, will launch the “Geemia Joye”.

James Walkus has nearly finished his second multi-million wellboat for Marine Harvest. He previously built its sister ship, “Amarissa Joye”.

Both have been outfitted with the latest technology for safe travel, as well as state-of-the-art fish handling equipment and temperature control to ensure quality salmon.

According to the North Island Gazette, Walkus (79) is one of the biggest independent commercial fishermen across the province and leads the way for First Nations investment and business in aquaculture.

The Port Hardy-based James Walkus Fishing Company is contracted by Marine Harvest to operate year-round harvest and transport vessels.

“The aquaculture industry has been tremendous for me, my family and my community… there are a lot of us First Nations that are for aquaculture,” Walkus said in a press release. “I’m a commercial fisherman as well but our wild fishery won’t support the supply and demand. We need to have both because they complement each other,” he added.

The MS “Amarissa Joye” was built by ADB Boats and launched in Vancouver on September 14th, 2014 PHOTO: Marine Harvest

“Geemia Joye” will officially launch later this month. The wellboat cost USD 11 million and is 105-feet in size. It was built at the ABD boatyard in North Vancouver. Construction began last September 2016.

“The First Nations owned and operated business employs 30 people, and has invested in the latest equipment that is a big part of ensuring Marine Harvest’s product quality,” said Jeremy Dunn, director of community Relations and public affairs for Marine Harvest Canada.