Routine fishery officer inspection leads to significant penalties of $88,644, and a fishing prohibition for a North Coast commercial salmon harvester
November 30, 2021
Terrace, B.C. - On July 2, 2021, Garry Dean Stoner was sentenced in Terrace Provincial Court after pleading guilty to 12 counts under the Fisheries Act for violations that occurred between June and September 2017, and in July and August 2018, in waters north of Haida Gwaii.
The Honourable Justice Calvin Struyk ordered the commercial salmon harvester to pay $1,200 in court fines, plus $42,800 in penalties, to be directed towards fisheries management and the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat. Justice Struyk included an additional $44,644 penalty to recover revenue obtained through the sales of the illegally caught Chinook salmon. Mr. Stoner was also prohibited from commercial salmon fishing for 18 months.
A Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) investigation was triggered by a routine fisheries inspection conducted in 2017. Fishery officers on board the Conservation and Protection enforcement platform, the CCGS Captain Goddard, boarded Mr. Stoner’s vessel, the F/V Prestige II, while it was actively engaged in the Area F commercial salmon troll fishery.
The subsequent investigation established that Mr. Stoner had: failed to submit a single Coho or Chinook salmon head between the three separate required landings; overfished his Chinook salmon quota; retained prohibited fish, and violated other commercial licence requirements.
In 2018, fishery officers from the Prince Rupert C&P Detachment conducted a further investigation of Mr. Stoner’s fishing activities during the 2018 commercial opening after reports of continued non-compliance with his licence conditions.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. DFO 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.
In pronouncing sentencing, Justice Struyk made numerous significant comments including the following: “Mr. Stoner’s unwillingness to comply with licence conditions is an affront to all fishers attempting to comply with complicated licence conditions,” and “In the court’s view, Mr. Stoner’s flagrant non-compliance with licence conditions justifies a salmon fishing prohibition.”
The Honourable Justice Calvin Struyk
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, or email the details to DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
Two subject matter experts from DFO provided impact statements for the trial to cover several important harmful impacts of illegal activity in the commercial fishery.
Chinook and Coho salmon head retention requirements provide essential information to fisheries managers on the Region’s highly migratory and declining salmon stocks - Coded wire tagging program
Excess and illegal harvesting is a threat to conservation. It also could result in management changes or closures, diminish the significant economic benefit from the fishery to coastal communities, recreational fisheries, commercial harvesters, and threaten the food source for Indigenous people.
These significant penalties and fishing prohibition underscore the potential consequences for commercial harvesters who fail to comply with Canada’s Fisheries Act.
Leri Davies, Strategic Media Relations Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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