Gazette says you should be able to buy fresh fish off the dock

Port Hardy has some of the best fishing on the North Island

magine this scenario:

You are visiting the Napa Valley or the Okanagan, admiring the rows of glistening vines and looking forward to choosing a bottle at one of the wineries.

You drive down a winding lane to a spot, a building, where the action is frantic with workers buzzing around, bringing buckets of grapes into the facility or packing cases upon cases of bottles into a truck.

You ask one of the workers where you can purchase a bottle of their product, or perhaps a case.

Sorry, you are told, they are not allowed to sell their product to the general public from the vineyard. The wine, you see, has to be shipped to Los Angeles or Vancouver first and then come back to the liquor store in Napa or Kelowna.

You shake your head, mumble something about bureaucracy running amok, drive into the town closest to the vineyard and settle into a restaurant.

You ask your server for a glass of wine, anything local. You are in the Napa Valley or Okanagan, so it would seem rude to ask for a Chilean red. And besides, this is why you came here in the first place, for a taste of the famous local product.

Sorry, you are told, the restaurant needs a special, and extra, license to sell the wines of the local vineyards, a separate, expensive license to deal with each and every individual winery.

At this point you ask for some Irish whiskey — just leave the bottle — and change your travel plans to leave this madhouse of government red tape as fast as humanly possible.

Sound like a ridiculous scenario? It is, of course. But it’s exactly what’s happening in Port Hardy with fish.

No port on B.C.’s coast handles more tonnage of ground fish than Port Hardy. And that doesn’t include the tens of thousands of pounds of salmon that are brought to the plants here and processed.

Our fishermen and women are the best in the world at what they do. They bring to Hardy’s docks some of the best product in the world.

Want to buy one of those great, healthy halibut or succulent sockeye, perhaps at the dock or at a local fish market? Good luck with that. Want to try some local fish, or perhaps a pot of steamed clams from one of the nearby First Nations’ operations at one of Port Hardy’s fine restaurants? Ain’t gonna happen, except maybe for a few weeks in the summer at one or two locations — maybe. Fresh fish market or, goodness forbid, buying a fish or two at the dock? Forget about it. (It should be noted the good people at Hardy Bouys do offer great, value-added product at their retail store that opens in April, and once in a while fresh fish.)

It’s quite a sore point, particularly with visitors, says Rick Marcotte, a District of Port Hardy councillor who finds this whole situation just, well, ridiculous. We endeavour to support Marcotte in any efforts to bring some sanity to this scenario, although he admits he’s not sure what can be done. We urge the chamber of commerce and tourism staff to further explore the possibilities and solicit the help of our MLA and MP.

We understand the absolute need for food safety regulations. And if there was money to be made running a fresh fish market here, we suspect someone would be doing it.

That stated, the situation seems like it could use a dose of logic.

— Editorial by John Harding

Fish