Vernon councillor calls for action over 'crazy loud' shrimp boats on Okanagan Lake

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VERNON - It might be saving Kokanee salmon populations, but a Vernon city councillor says shrimp harvesting on Okanagan Lake is ‘crazy loud.’

“It’s like, wow, you hear this thing from across the whole lake,” Coun. Brian Quiring said at a council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 13. “I mean, we have to find a way that can be changed.”

City Hall received a noise complaint from a resident about a shrimp harvesting operation on the lake last month, and Quiring, who lives on the lake, said he agrees with the resident.

“It’s clearly a problem, not just one person saying (it.) Everyone is talking about how loud that thing is,” Quiring said.

He described the sound as repeated honking and banging, with what sounds like a diesel generator running ‘all freaking night long.’

Mysis shrimp were introduced to Okanagan Lake years ago to help feed Kokanee populations, but things didn't work out as planned when the shrimp started eating the same food as the fish fry. Shrimp harvesting began in the 1990s in an attempt to fix the problem. 

While the city has noise bylaws, it remains unclear if they are applicable in this particular case. The shrimp boats on Okanagan Lake hold permits from both the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and jurisdiction over the operations themselves is overlapped by federal, provincial and municipal laws.

Bylaw compliance manager Clint Kanester said the province feels the shrimp boats are meeting all their permit requirements and does not find noise levels to be unacceptable. City staff could not confirm the sound levels because the shrimp boats have already been taken off the water for the season.

“We haven’t heard it from different areas where it may be causing more of a concern,” Kanester told council.

The owner of the processing barge indicated work will be done over the winter in an attempt to lessen noise levels, Kanester also added in his report to council.

“Both operators have been cooperative in attempting to address concerns, including the current operator moving out of the bay and making changes to the motor providing power for the freezing and processing operation,” Kanester said.

Quiring acknowledged the shrimp harvesters are just doing their job, and added the solution might be as simple as modifying the equipment to make it quieter.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724. 

Editor's Note in response to allegations from Vernon RCMP Supt. Jim McNamara
Editor’s note: • Watch shifts at the Vernon detachment have fallen to as low as three roadable officers. • The department suffers from chronic understaffing. • Sources, who we trust and who have knowledge of the s

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