Violations under the Fisheries Act left two Campbell River-area residents on the hook for thousands of dollars in fines.
That’s according to a list of recent fishing-related convictions newly released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Violations related to the commercial red sea urchin fishery netted a hefty penalty for James Brian Mahon of Cortes Island.
Mahon was handed a $4,500 fine and forfeited a catch of sea urchin valued at $2,241.25.
He was convicted on March 21 in connection with an incident dating back to Sept. 13, 2015, when he was fishing for the spiny creatures in a closed area in Otter Passage, south of Banks Island.
The island is located along the mainland coast south of Prince Rupert.
“In this particular instance, there was an open fishery directly adjacent to a closed fishery,” said Jason Davey, a fishery officer based in Terrace. “Mr. Mahon chose to fish in the closed area… basically a kilometer away from the open area.”
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Davey explained that sea urchins are picked from the ocean floor by divers, generally in tidal waters between five to 30 feet deep where the marine invertebrates tend to congregate. Each dive fleet has a certain quota, with one designated boat leading vessels to open areas as quotas are completed. The fleet coordinator noticed that Mahon had strayed from the others.
“He observed on his own that this guy was fishing away from the fleet, in a closed area, so that’s where the initial reports came from,” he said.
Meanwhile, violations related to the commercial prawn fishery resulted in a $4,000 court-ordered fine for Roger Sewell of Campbell River. Sewell was convicted on March 26 for the crustacean-related violations, which also resulted in the forfeiture of 100 boxes of prawns, each box weighing 2.2 pounds, along with a 20-pound bag of prawns that was seized.
He was charged in connection with a June 10, 2018 incident in Briggs Inlet, a remote arm of the sea located north of Bella Bella.
Sewell set his prawn gear while the fishery was closed, according to DFO spokesperson Leri Davies.
“Briggs Inlet had closed over a week earlier from the violation date,” she said in an email.
Of the nine recent convictions currently listed online by DFO, most involve fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. But the feds also got one big catch worth hundreds of thousands.
The Richmond-based company Pasco Seafood Enterprises faces a total penalty of roughly $473,000 for three violations related to sockeye and pink salmon fisheries.
The company was convicted on Feb. 4 of three offences, namely buying fish caught without a license, possessing fish caught during a closed time and selling fish caught during a closed time. The charges date back to August 2011.