A commercial crab fisher was handed $20,000 in fines and was compelled to forfeit gear worth approximately $35,000 after conviction on four Fisheries Act charges in Powell River provincial court.
Tuan H. Le, vessel master of the fishing vessel Victor Le, was also given a four-month fishing prohibition after his Thursday, June 6, court appearance.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Powell River field supervisor Matt Conley said that of the $20,000 in fines, $9,000 will be directed into projects in the Powell River area for the conservation and protection of fish.
The company that owns the vessel was fined $2,000 for failing to submit logbook data.
This investigation was undertaken by Powell River fishery officers in the spring of 2018, leading to the charges. Conley said the public regularly calls the fisheries office about commercial crab boats in this area.
“There’s a bit of a public outcry,” said Conley. “People here like recreational fishing for crab and are concerned that the commercial boats are putting a dent into their harvest opportunities.”
Since the fishery is electronically monitored, fishery officers became aware of several violations throughout the winter and spring of 2018. Because of that, fishery officers investigated the Victor Le vessel in the spring of 2018.
“He [Tuan Le] was investigated for failing to comply with his conditions of licence,” said Conley. “One of the conditions is to only haul your gear once per week during the soft-shell crab molting period. He was failing to do that as he was hauling his gear more than once a week, which is hard on the crabs. There’s a high mortality rate when you’re rolling the crab traps over all the time.”
Conley said the subsequent investigation led by fisheries officer Ben Rahier revealed some other offences, such as fishing without a commercial licence on board. Conley said Le was also charged with selling crabs without a commercial licence. One other charge he was convicted of was for leaving his gear in the water for more than 18 consecutive days without hauling.
Conley said two vessels were investigated during the spring of 2018. A court case for the other vessel is pending in the next couple of months.
To report violations, call Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Observe, Record, Report violation line at 1.800.465.4336.