Provincial court fines Northern BC fishing resort $47,500 case involved the non-reporting of illegal oversized halibut
Masset, British Columbia - On April 25, 2018, in Masset Provincial Court, Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL) was convicted of two violations of the Fisheries Act and fined a total $47,500. The Honourable Justice Stewart ordered a $1,000 fine for each of the two violations, plus a $6,500 fine for the first violation and a $39,000 fine for the second, directed to be used by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the conservation of fish and fish habitat in and around Haida Gwaii.
Queen Charlotte Lodge is a sport fishing resort located on the west shore of Naden Harbour on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii, B.C. and has been in operation for more than 25 years.
B.C.’s tidal water recreational fishery, combined with the freshwater fishery, is the largest and most valuable in Canada, valued at $18 billion annually. DFO issues over 350,000 tidal licences per year collecting $7.3 million in fees and the fishery employs around 8,400 British Columbian’s (as of 2012). The recreational fishing possession limits for halibut in Pacific Region in 2015/16 were 2, with a maximum length of 133 cm and only 1 could be longer than 90 cm. Limits are in place to maximize recreational opportunities while maintaining a stable and sustainable population. Given the large number of recreational fishery participants in the region, the effect of illegal activities (fishing during closed times, in closed areas, exceeding fishing limits and failing to report catch) by even a small portion of fishers can have far-reaching negative impacts. Significant species could become threatened, or extinct, government could fail to meet its international and legal obligations, and there could be significant economic and social impacts to other stakeholders and communities who depend on the resource.
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 investigation into the fishing, retention, possession and processing of the oversized halibut was complicated and involved a routine regulatory inspection at QCL, which led to further investigations conducted at Masset Airport, and again at the resort under a search warrant.
The halibut caught and retained by the QCL guest on August 22, 2015 was larger than the legal limit of 133 cm; and estimated to be 143 cm to 148 cm in length.
The mandatory catch reporting and landing records required under the conditions of licence and supplied to the fishery officers by QCL and the fisher were deliberately inaccurate.
As a result of this case QCL proactively revamped its employee policies to include responsibilities around measuring fish and reporting violations, and have added a designated "fish measurer" position whose job is to re-measure fish landed by guided and unguided guests at the resort dock.
The guide involved in this case was charged and pleaded guilty prior to this trial and was fined a total penalty of $1,000 for possession of an oversized halibut and transporting the fish from the water to the lodge.
In the past 4 years, the C&P Haida Gwaii detachment has, or will receive, close to $100k in conservation funds from the Court.
Leri Davies, Strategic Media Relations Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
Tel: (604) 666-8675 Cell: 604-612-6837
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