VANCOUVER, BC, July 29, 2021 /CNW/ - Following his arrest on March 2, 2020, Nanaimo-based commercial crab fishing boat master Scott Steer has again been found guilty of serious offences against the Fisheries Act. He was convicted on 5 counts in Vancouver Provincial Court on May 14, 2021, by the Honorable Justice Edelman for illegal activities near North Vancouver, B.C. in early March 2020.
Mr. Steer, who has faced serious judicial penalties in the past, including a jail term, a twenty-two year prohibition from fishing in Canadian or U.S. waters, and significant fines, is currently under 24-hour house arrest and will be sentenced in October of this year. Mr. Steer is currently prohibited by the Courts until 2038 from: applying for any Fisheries Act licences: being on board any fishing vessel; possessing/acquiring any vessels, or owning any fishing gear.
On March 1, 2020, just before midnight, a Vancouver Sea Bus advised the Marine Traffic Center of a vessel fishing crabs in the harbour at night. The Coast Guard were advised and contacted Conservation and Protection Radio Room Dispatch. Fishery officers from the Marine Patrol Program enforcement vessel, the M. Charles, investigated and discovered Mr. Steer illegally fishing for crab. After ignoring commands to stop, the vessel was boarded at high speed and Mr. Steer and three crew members were arrested and held in custody by the North Vancouver RCMP. The fishing vessel, plus a truck and trailer were seized, and 300 live crab found on board were released back into the water.
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.
Since 2008 there have been 15 different DFO files on Scott Steer.
Over the last several years 4 vessels and two vehicles have been seized as evidence against Mr. Steer.
On May 31, 2021, 8 new charges in Nanaimo were laid against Mr. Steer, and a numbered company owned by a family member, for illegal fishing activities involving the harvest of sea cucumbers between July 2019 and March 2020.
Mr. Steer was again arrested and appeared in Court on June 1, 2021 for a bail hearing for breaching his Court-ordered conditions.
On July 6, 2021, 3 additional new charges against Mr. Steer were sworn in Nanaimo Provincial Court and that case is yet to be heard.
Two of the three crew members arrested on March 2, 2020, are awaiting trial.
Harvesters who choose to ignore the rules give themselves an unfair advantage, undermine the effective management of the fishery, and threaten the sustainability of the resource.
Excess harvesting threatens 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 tourism, and threaten the traditional food source for Indigenous people. The commercial crab fishery accounts for almost one third (approximately 31%) of the wholesale value of the province's wild shellfish products.
Crab caught illegally can be laundered into the legitimate retail market. Only fish caught under a licence, which permits the sale, or purchase of fish, may be purchased or sold. Any fish sold must be processed through a licensed plant to ensure quality and public safety. Fish that has not been inspected may be unsafe for consumption and post significant health risks.
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.
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
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