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Wei Wai Kum chief says federal investigation looking into allegations of fishing vessel’s intentional sinking

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C- The chief of Wei Wai Kum First Nation (WWK) has issued a statement on the Northern King.

The Northern King was a fishing boat that sank in Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River on January 13th, 2017.

A video has surfaced online this November, showing what appears to be the Northern King is shown getting filled with dirt or gravel at the side of a concrete wharf.

It appears the footage is from the Discover Harbour surveillance camera.

The video was taken just after 7 p.m. on February 1st, 2017.

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The video ends with the vessel being taken away from the wharf by another boat. Several people are named in the video.

Chris Roberts, the chief of WWK, issued the following statement in response to the video.

“This message is in response to a social media post of footage and commentary relating to allegations involving a Council member for Wei Wai Kum First Nation (WWK) and other members of WWK and other First Nations,” read the opening line.

“The Band does not sanction the video that has surfaced on line; it is unauthorized use of video surveillance footage that is property of WWK. WWK is taking steps to determine responsibility for how this sensitive information was leaked. It is confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada into the allegations of the intentional sinking of the Northern King without a disposal permit and the Band has committed to cooperating in this investigative process.”

“As the original owners and caretakers of the lands, waters resources or our territories, which have sustained our ancestors for thousands of years, we take our stewardship obligations very seriously. Wei Wai Kum First Nation will continue to work with our members, other governments and stakeholders to continue upholding this ancient stewardship responsibility to all of the creator’s creations.”

According to the Coast Guard, pumps were used to re-float the vessel after the sinking in January. The Coast Guard reported on February 1st, 2017, that all pollutants had been removed from the boat.

The exact date of the removal is unknown.

“Removing of pollutants is one mitigation measure that can be done to ensure a vessel that is at risk of sinking does not pollute the marine environment if indeed it does sink,” read part of a statement from the Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard did not receive any additional reports in either 2017 or 2018 about this vessel.”

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), an investigation into the Northern King is underway.

“Departmental enforcement officers are currently investigating this matter regarding potential violations to the Act (Environmental Protection Act)”, read a statement from the ministry.

“As the investigation is ongoing, ECCC cannot provide further information at this time.”

ECCC has told the newsroom that the current location and status of the Northern King is known, but have not yet confirmed whether or not the vessel was sank.

Efforts to reach individuals named in the video are underway.

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