Two Prince Rupert provincial court cases, garnering more than $17,000 in fines, are among several throughout the province highlighted by Oceans and Fisheries Canada (DFO) in what happens when officers are either obstructed or when there’s a failure to provide required documents.
Bandstra Transportation was fined $8,750 after pleading guilty Nov. 17, 2021 to a violation of Canada’s Fisheries Act for failing to comply with a demand for records received from a fishery officer.
A second Prince Rupert provincial court case was cited of an unnamed “long-time commercial vessel master” being found guilty on Aug. 31, 2020 of obstructing and specifically hindering a fishery officer and being fined $10,000.
“Commercial fishers, simply, must fully cooperate and ensure fisheries officers are allowed to conduct inspections. …the court will not take lightly offences that involve fisheries officers doing their jobs and exercising their legal powers under the Fisheries Act,” said provincial court judge Calvin Struyk in passing that sentence.
Obstructing DFO fishery officers performing their duty, or failing to provide required documentation, are serious and potentially costly offences, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada stated in a Feb. 22 press release.
Traceability of fish stocks in the highly regulated fishing industry is essential, the DFO stated.
“This is a vital component for sustainable stock management, food safety, Canada’s treaty obligations and international reputation, and for DFO’s ability to carry out its responsibilities,” the statement read.
A significant degree of reporting is required in the sector, with information required from many parties who are involved in catching, processing and transporting the fish to the final consumer.
A $5,000 fine was issued to Christopher Schill for charges of obstruction when he pleaded guilty to charges heard in the North Vancouver Provincial Court on December 14, 2021.
“Mr. Schill, along with fellow crew member Sammy Williams and vessel skipper Scott Steer, was arrested on March 1, 2020, in an investigation and a series of subsequent trials that resulted in a lifetime fishing ban for Mr. Steer and penalties for the crew. In addition to the fine, Mr. Schill has been ordered to have no contact with either Mr. Steer, or Mr. Williams, for the next three years,” the DFO stated.
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.
Anyone with information about suspected violations of Canada’s Fisheries Act and regulations can call the Fisheries and Oceans Canada toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336, or e-mail the details to DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multi-Media Journalist
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