Commercial crab vessel skipper fined $15,000: Van Tan Le pleads guilty to fishing in a closed area near Masset
PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia - On April 10, 2017, Van Tan Le, skipper of the commercial crabbing vessel Vitamin Sea Vl, pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act by harvesting Dungeness crab, between June 21 and June 30, 2015, in a closed area. Judge H J Seidemann III ordered Mr. Le to pay a total of $15,000, with $14,000 of that to be used for fisheries preservation and conservation projects in and around Haida Gwaii and Hecate Strait.
The charges stem from Mr. Le setting more than 49 crab traps inside the Soft-shell Management Area 10 – McIntyre Bay closure area. A routine audit of the vessel’s logbook and electronic monitoring data revealed possible fishing violations and triggered a DFO fishery officer investigation in the summer of 2015.
The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding the long-term health and productivity of Canada’s fisheries resources, and the habitat that supports them, for generations to come. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. It ensures and promotes compliance with the Act and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities. As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and Regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.
This offence is considered extremely serious by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and by representatives of the commercial fishing industry.
Fishing during the McIntyre Bay soft-shell closure could have detrimental impacts on its crab stocks, the ability of First Nations to meet their Food, Social and Ceremonial needs, the livelihood of commercial licence holders designated to fish in the Area, and the success of recreational fishermen in the area.
For the past several years commercial catches in McIntyre Bay have been below the historic average so protecting its crab populations, particularly during their vulnerable soft-shell time, is increasingly important for long-term conservation and viable fishery reasons. Moreover, this unaccounted for pressure, particularly during its soft-shell closure, contributes to continued low crab abundances and threatens fishing viability for this area.
The commercial crab fishery accounts for over one quarter (approximately 27%) of the wholesale value of the province’s wild shellfish products and supports substantial employment in the harvesting and processing sectors. The preliminary estimate of the 2014 coast-wide commercial landed value is $46.7M.
For more information:
Leri Davies, Strategic Media Relations Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
Tel: (604) 666-8675 Cell: 604-612-6837
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