COURTENAY, B.C., June 11, 2021 /CNW/ - An on-site investigation and audit of paperwork by fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) Conservation and Protection Aquaculture Unit led to a guilty plea and $10,000 in fines for Keith Chui, a commercial clam fish harvester who co-owns an area aquaculture licence.
On February 17, 2021, in Courtenay Provincial Court, after hearing the evidence and considering three DFO impact statements, the Honourable Judge Brian Hutcheson found Mr. Chui guilty of eight counts of violations against Canada's Fisheries Act, including incomplete information on mandatory shellfish container tags, inaccurate information of product harvested from his aquaculture site spanning several years, and failure to submit two Annual Aquaculture Statistical reports (AASR).
Shellfish aquaculture in B.C. is an important industry to the provincial economy, accounting for an approximate landed value of $20 to 25 million annually, with the majority of shellfish culturing locations concentrated along the southern coast. DFO is the lead regulatory authority for aquaculture operations, working in partnership with other governmental agencies that oversee aspects like food safety and water quality. Together, they manage the B.C. Shellfish Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plan to ensure that shellfish aquaculture in B.C. operates sustainably, with minimal damage to fish and fish habitat, and in accordance with Canada's International Treaties.
DFO 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 DFO'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.
In this case, 38 traceability tags were missing required information to show where the fish was harvested, when it was harvested and who the harvester was. The fine was $1,500 for each count for a total of $4,500.
Mr. Chui's Activity Records did not accurately represent the product that was being harvested from his site for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. The fine was $1,500 for each year for a total of $4,500.
Mr. Chui failed to submit his Annual Aquaculture Statistical Report for 2015 and 2016. These reports are used for the traceability of fish, for resource management purposes and for the federal and provincial agencies to tally the Gross Domestic Product for the previous year. The fine for each of these counts was $500 for a total of $1,000.
DFO's Conservation and Protection Branch assesses compliance of the shellfish industry in a number of ways, including regular random and scheduled site inspections and desk audits of required reporting and record keeping.
Traceability and assurance of legal harvest of licensed cultivated product of shellfish aquaculture product is critical for a number of reasons including:
Traceability tags were missing mandatory information, including: Licence Holder Name, Species, and Facility Reference Number.
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
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