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Charity sale of just-caught herring this weekend in James Bay; proceeds help young people being treated for cancer

Sale at 27 Erie St. starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday
Rich McBride holds a plate of herring at Finest At Sea, which is holding a charity silver herring sale at the store on Erie Street in James Bay on Saturday to help young people being treated for cancer at B.C. Children's Hospital. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Thousands of pounds of slippery, silver herring are up for sale this weekend at Finest At Sea in James Bay to raise money to help young people being treated for cancer at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

The sale at 27 Erie St. starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, but based on past years, business owner Bob Fraumeni expects customers to begin lining up hours before that, some as early as 5 a.m.

Sales run until 6 p.m. on Saturday and start again at 9 a.m. on Sunday and last until supplies run out, Fraumeni said Friday.

He was expecting 10,000 pounds of herring to be delivered on Friday and may get more if it is available and the demand is there.

Prices are $20 for 20 pounds or $15 for 10 pounds. Fraumeni said bags will be on hand, but buyers can bring their own bags or buckets.

Buyers pickle, fry and grill herring, a flavourful fish that some also use as bait.

The fishery is permitted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for charity fundraising. Herring is also on sale this weekend in Steveston, south of Vancouver, where it is being unloaded.

Everyone involved in the fundraising effort donates their time and equipment, Fraumeni said. The fishing sector covers the expenses and all funds raised go to the charity. “It is a real labour of love for them.”

Fishermen try to outwit huge herring-loving sea lions that know to follow fishing boats.

“We have a technique for dodging the sea lions,” Fraumeni said.

“We send out ‘dummy’ boats that start fishing and then they attract all the sea lions and then one boat goes where the main school [of herring] is and scoops them up.”

Even so, the Facebook page for the charity Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer noted that sea lions were a problem this year as they waited in the water for the seiners to show up.

The Viking Leader and Western Investor boats were used to pull in the herring.

This is the 11th year the sale has been staged.