A commercial crab harvester from Surrey was fined $5,500 in Port Hardy Provincial Court after being found guilty of numerous violations of the Fisheries Act.
Phong Thanh Do appeared in court on Feb. 16 facing three counts of failing to comply with the conditions of his commercial fishing license.
He was found guilty of 22 violations including: using commercial crab traps that lacked the required identification tags, using treated rot cord on his traps, and using two traps with undersized escape rings.
He was ordered to pay $250 for each identified violation, and some of his fishing gear was forfeited.
He was charged following an incident on Nov. 9, 2011, when Fisheries and Oceans Canada officers patrolling the area near Port Elizabeth, off northern Vancouver Island, inspected the a commercial crab vessel being operated by Do. The officers identified numerous violations of the conditions of Do’s commercial licence and seized 10 crab traps as evidence.
The conviction of Do marks the first successful prosecution of a trap tag violation.
To protect crab stocks, harvesters are required to return female and undersized dungeness crabs immediately to the water. Harvesters can only catch males that are large enough to have mated at least twice (at least 165 mm in width, measured in a straight line through the widest part of the shell, from outside the points), and are advised to measure crabs using a caliper device.
Regulations under the Fisheries Act also require untreated cotton cord to be used on crab traps to ensure that if the trap is lost, the section secured by the cord will rot, allowing captive crab to escape and preventing the lost trap from continuing to fish.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada asks the general public for information on illegal fishing activities or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and Regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.