Innovation and pride drive this manager

By Gina Forsyth

After three decades in the aquaculture industry, Koskimo Bay Manager Dave Guhl continues to put his heart and soul into his work.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario, Dave did a lot of freshwater fishing with his dad, catching bass, walleye, muskie and trout. “I’ve always loved to fish,” says Dave.

His dad passed away prematurely and Dave says, “It was because of my dad that I got into aquaculture”. After graduating high school, he enrolled in the two year aquaculture diploma program at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario, in the early years of the program. Dave was first in his class of 18.

During a family trip to BC, Dave fell in love with the province and shortly thereafter, made the move across the country and was hired at Skookumchuck Salmon in Agamemnon Channel on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver. This was in 1988. The following year, a large plankton bloom meant the lost of several thousand coho. The next stop was Saga Seafarms from 1989 until 1993 on both the Sunshine Coast and at Redonda Bay. While at Saga, Dave was involved with the farming of sockeye salmon in conjunction with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This proved to be tricky due to diet issues.

Dave worked with Omega Salmon Group for 10 years, until 2003. He managed several of the farms on the Port Hardy side during that time, including a site with 52 cages. He made the move to Stolt Sea Farms and then later Marine Harvest following the merger. He’s managed multiple sites in Quatsino since 2003 and wouldn’t go anywhere else. Dave is currently managing Koskimo Bay.

“Quatsino is the quiet jewel of the BC coast,” says Dave.

His site was harvested out earlier this spring and involved with site clean up, area projects and touring farms in the Campbell River area until the site is restocked in October.

“I’m honoured to be part of an industry that takes such care with their fish,” says Dave, adding that seeing the “technological advances and specialized teams to support production” in the 30 years he’s been involved with salmon farming are highlights of his career.

Another aspect of his job that Dave is keenly interested is that of innovation, something he is proud the company encourages. The work he has done in the area of plankton mitigation is now the gold standard for the entire company. As well, he developed the “telescopic eye in the sky tower “to mount the dome camera used for monitoring site activity and fish behaviour during feeding.This piece of technology has now been adopted company-wide.

Dave and his wife Nancy, who he met at the industry’s annual softball tournament in 2001, was working on the freshwater side of the industry at Omega’s Stelling hatchery. The couple lives in Courtenay and have two kids, a boy (10) and a girl (9). They are involved in soccer, skiing, and dance. The family enjoys camping together and enjoying the outdoors. “The kids were brought up outside,” says Dave.