RONC

Just another “day at the office” with Ken Toynbee

“The cleaning allows for optimum water flow through the nets, which increases the oxygen flow for the fish, which leads to optimum growth and higher survival rates,” Toynbee explained.

By Gina Forsyth

Ken Toynbee, RONC (Remote Operated Net Cleaner) pilot, is the skipper of the net washing vessel, the Wave Raker. The Wave Raker travels to fish farm sites to clean and monitor the grow out, and the predator nets, using the RONC equipment. The boat and equipment are disinfected thoroughly between arrivals and departures to and from each site.

“The cleaning allows for optimum water flow through the nets, which increases the oxygen flow for the fish, which leads to optimum growth and higher survival rates,” Toynbee explained.

When Toynbee was a young lad, the family left St. John, New Brunswick for a few years stint in the Bahamas, where his father was employed by the Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO).  The opportunity to snorkel and be on the water piqued his interest in marine life, and more importantly his interest in the work of Jacques Cousteau.

Toynbee studied Environmental Zoology at the University of New Brunswick and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours.  He migrated west to B.C. –  when there were fewer jobs than expected in his field – his father suggested looking at the aquaculture industry.

“I got on the phone and made calls and had quite a lot of interest. Having a degree and a dive ticket was to my advantage,” said Toynbee.

His first job in the aquaculture industry was with Agrimarine in 1994 – Agrimarine later entered into a joint venture with Marine Harvest. He quickly moved up the ladder to Lead Hand, and later as an Assistant Manager.

In 2016, Toynbee made the switch from working at the Wicklow site in the Broughton Archipelago, to net washing in the Broughton with the Blue Knight.

2018 saw him moved on to skipper the Wave Raker in the Campbell River area to monitor and maintain the sites at Shaw Point, Althorp, Hardwicke, Lees Bay and Chancellor Channel. Toynbee, having done net washing prior to moving into the field on a full time basis, was interested in everything the job had to offer.

“It was also provided the opportunity to gain further skills,” he said.

Just another “day at the office”.

Toynbee knows that not every day is a routine one.  Take November 14, for example, when Ken and his deckhand, Nic James, responded to a mayday call that evening from a boater in distress somewhere in the Campbell River North region.

“We were at Shaw Point refuelling when we received notice of a mayday from another skipper in the company. We were in touch with the Victoria Rescue Centre and were first on the scene at about 6:00pm.

“The man had made his way to Louisa Island on the northwest side, at the entrance to Forward Harbour, in an aluminum runaround. We got him onboard and then set up a towline and headed for his camp home which was one kilometre into Forward Harbour. His battery had died.

“We had some issues because the tide was ripping in Wellbore Channel.

“A Campbell River coastguard zodiac arrived, tied up to the Wave Raker, and due to the shallowness, had to take him to his camp home.

“He was pretty happy to see us and we were happy to help him out,” recounted Toynbee.

 

RELATED LINKS:

Chef Cori Wheeler is a woman in aquaculture

“If you build it they will come.”

Meet the future of Canada’s sustainable aquaculture industry

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