A White Rock RCMP officer speaks with a woman on the dock Sept. 7, following reports that people were ripping the claws and legs off of live crabs and throwing them back in the water. (Contributed photo)

Court appearance set for accused in White Rock crab-claw case

One of two people ticketed on dock has paid fine, records show

One of two people accused of breaking claws off of live crabs on White Rock pier two weeks ago is to make his first appearance in Surrey Provincial Court in two months’ time.

According to online court records, Hsin Chan, born in 1948, is to appear in court on Nov. 21, on a charge of “catch and retain undersized Dungeness crab.”

The second accused, Chun Li, was committed on a charge of “fish without tidal waters sport fishing licence,” and paid a penalty – which is essentially a guilty plea – Sept. 8, records show.

White Rock RCMP told Peace Arch News last week that two people – a White Rock woman and a Belgian man – were charged in connection with a Sept. 7 report of “people taking undersized crabs, ripping their legs off and throwing the bodies back into the water.”

A video posted to Facebook by local resident Andrew Newman Sept. 7 shows an officer pulling what appear to be crab claws from the jacket pockets of a woman on the White Rock dock.

Newman, who operates a whale-watching business in the bay, said he had been seeing crabs without pinchers or legs caught “all summer long… and wondered why.”

“It’s an act of greed and cruelty,” he writes.

As of last week, the clip had been viewed nearly 400,000 times.

Chan and Li were charged under the Federal Fisheries Act, and received fines totalling $450.

According to officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the impact to crabs of having their claws removed is likely devastating.

Jason Dunham, an aquatic science biologist with DFO, said while crabs do regenerate missing appendages, the process can take several years and typically results in much less powerful claws.

In the meantime, their ability to forage is impacted.

“Mortality rates following claw removal have been estimated to be 23-51 per cent,” Dunham said by email.

“My opinion is, and there is support in the literature, that removing claws or a couple of appendages from a Dungeness crab and then discarding it probably kills the crab.”