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What was that DFO boat doing out on Howe Sound?

Squamish-based Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officers were out on Howe Sound this week conducting a vessel patrol.
Fisheries Brian Aikens
DFO officers out on Howe Sound on April 22.
Did you spot this DFO boat out on Howe Sound on Thursday?

Squamish-based Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officers were out conducting a routine vessel patrol.

During the April 22 patrol, officers caught folks doing a few things they shouldn't.

Some were in areas they shouldn't be, such as in closed sponge reef and marine protected areas. Tickets were also given out and gear seized of fishers without proper markings on their equipment, a DFO spokesperson told The Chief in an email.

Generally speaking, when you see DFO officers out on the water, they are watching for a wide variety of violations, some of which are related to protected areas where fishing is prohibited or where specific sanctions are in place to protect sensitive populations and habitat, the spokesperson said.

Some of these sensitive distinctions include Glass Sponge Reef Marine Refuges, Rock Fish Conservation Areas, Canadian shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) closures, and other marine protected areas and closures.

There is currently an open recreational fishery of salmon north of Lions Bay that DFO officers also monitor..

The DFO also had a few warnings for folks heading out on the water.

Don't harvest bivalves

Currently, there is a public health concern surrounding the harvest of bivalves — mussels, clams, oysters, and the like — as eating them could cause serious illness or even death.

"The harvest of bivalves in Howe Sound and Lower Mainland beaches has been prohibited for many years.... We ask that the public familiarize themselves with local regulations before hitting the water or beach," the spokesperson said.

Be kind and respectful on the water

With recent dolphins and other marine life spotted on Howe Sound, DFO also has a warning for boaters.

"We ask that all boaters/vessel operators familiarize themselves with current Marine Mammal Regulations and keep their distance and take extra steps to ensure the safety of the animals and the public."

Many Indigenous groups and commercial fishers are out in the same fishing areas as the general public.

"Please familiarize yourselves with the traditional territories of local Indigenous Peoples and respect their rights and boundaries. Also, understand that commercial fishers and sport fishing guides will be out fishing for their livelihood while recreational fishers will be angling. We ask for understanding and tolerance between all user groups," the spokesperson said.

Report bad behaviour on the water

The DFO encourages the public to report violations they see as well.

 If you see anything suspicious or a fisheries-related violation in progress,  call or email the Observe Record and Report Line at 1-800-465-4336, DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca .