Four BC crab fishers hit with over CAD 287,000 in fines for illegal fishing

Published on
September 28, 2023
A DFO inspector holding a crab.

Four crab fishermen in British Columbia, Canada, were hit with fines totaling more than CAD 287,000 (USD 212,700, EUR 201,400) for illegal fishing and license violations.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada (DFO) announced that investigations by its fishery officers into the Boundary Bay commercial crab fleet in Surrey, B.C. resulted in several convictions after multiple violations were found on four different vessels. 

One vessel master, Han Van Lam – who operated the fishing vessel John Lam – pleaded guilty to illegally fishing in U.S. waters during the 2019 and 2020 commercial fishing seasons for Dungeness crab. Lam, who was previously fined CAD 50,000 (USD 37,000, EUR 35,100) for other violations, was forced to forfeit 96 traps the DFO seized as evidence and was prohibited from fishing for the first 14 days of the commercial season in 2024 and 2025. It is the first time that a fishing prohibition of its type has been imposed by the Canadian court system.

Michael Hau, who operated the Muoi H,pleaded guilty to failing to scan his traps during the 2018, 2019, and 2020 fishing seasons per the conditions of his fishing license. Hau was fined CAD 20,000 (USD 14,800 EUR 14,000) and then had to forfeit just over CAD 19,000 (USD 14,000, EUR 13,300) in value from his catch.

Viet Dam, the master of the Pacific Falcon, also pleaded guilty to fishing illegally in U.S. waters, and also to fishing more traps than are allowed by his license, in 2019. Dam was fined CAD 38,000 (USD 28,100, EUR 26,600) and was forced to forfeit 83 traps.

The largest fine was given to Hoan Trung Do, operator of the Bounty Hunter, who pleaded guilty to fishing in U.S. waters and setting more traps than allowed in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Do was fined CAD 160,000 (USD 118,500, EUR 112,200) for the violations.

In its release announcing the fines, the DFO said its push to install electronic monitoring systems stems from trying to crack down on illegal fishing. An initiative begun in 2022 is now in full effect for the 2023 season, and has already “resulted in a marked decrease in fishing in U.S. waters,” the DFO said.

Canada also recently announced it is building four new patrol vessels for its conservation and protection programs to replace older ones. The DFO also announced fines against a tuna fishing company that was fishing for albacore tuna without a license.  

Photo courtesy of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans

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