Sechelt, British Columbia — A group of recreational harvesters were found guilty in Sechelt Provincial Court on June 21, 2018. Of violations of the Fisheries Act. Committed in the Egmont area, on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast.
The Honourable Judge Steven Merrick ordered Li-Chao Tang to pay a fine of $5,000, be prohibited from recreational fishing in tidal waters for one year, plus forfeit a seized vessel, all of its contents, and all of the associated fishing gear, valued at approximately $15,000.
Judge Merrick fined Cho Cheung and Kwong Tzang $3,500 each, fined Yu Tong $3,000, and ordered the same one year fishing prohibition for all three men.
In his findings Judge Merrick stated that: “Their conduct was reprehensible. A clear message must be sent to Mr. Tang and others that you must check fisheries regulations and they must be followed.”
In his comments Justice Merrick also noted that the public interest in protecting the fisheries is hardly trifling, that everyone needs to understand. There really is just a limited number of fish in the sea, whether it be recreational or commercial.
Any failure to follow fisheries regulations is serious. As stewards of our environment it is incumbent on the Court to impose fines that reflect society’s condemnation of a serious environmental issue.
The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding the long-term health and productivity of Canada’s fisheries resources. Plus the habitat that supports them for generations to come.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. It ensures and promotes compliance with the Act and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities.
As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.
The violations of the Fisheries Act occurred May 1, 2017.
The violations were observed by fishery officers conducting a surveillance operation to protect vulnerable rockfish populations.
The group was found in possession of 15 rockfish, 11 of which were over their daily possession limits.
Yelloweye are one of the largest rockfish species and can live up to 115 years, reaching a maximum recorded length of 91 cm and weight of 11.3 kg. They are a highly prized species by all user groups.
Possession limits are calculated to maximize recreational opportunities, and attempting to rebuild Yelloweye Rockfish populations. They’re currently a species of concern under the Species At Risk Act.
There are a large number of recreational angler’s in BC, actively fishing and participating in illegal fishing. DFO officers have scene angler’s fishing during a closed period. Others fishing in RCA closed areas. DFO officer’s also found anglers exceeding the fishing species limits. Some anglers had failed to report their catch on their license.
A small proportion of recreational harvester’s, can have a significant negative impact on the fisheries resource.
Persistent illegal harvest could result in the curtailment of fishing opportunities for all recreational Rockfish harvesters, contrary to the goals of stability and predictability.
The whole lower mainland of Vancouver is closed to rockfish fishing and the majority of the BC Coast is closed to the retention of Yelloweye rockfish this year.