Canadian DFO seizes more than 300 Dungeness crab traps, four vessels
More than 300 Dungeness crab traps and four vessels were seized last month by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), who said they were illegally placed in American waters, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Canada’s Dungeness crab season begins at the end of July and the American season begins in December. Toward the end of the Canadian season, fishermen sometimes illegally place traps south of the border, risking fines or forfeiting their catch, to access the American crab stock which hasn’t been depleted over the course of a season.
The vessels seized were among the 24 that make up the Boundary Bay Dungeness Crab fishing fleet.
Fines for setting crab traps in American waters tend to be several thousands of dollars, but the maximum is CAD 500,000 (USD 375,476) if it is a first-time offense. Each trap is estimated to cost some CAD 500 (USD 375) to replace. The traps are either destroyed or sometimes sold back to the fishermen at auction.
"You have people who push the envelope because it may be worth it for them to do that if they don't get caught, because there's money in crab – there's good money in crab," DFO Field Office Supervisor Art Demsky said. "Sometimes getting caught and getting fines may be the price of doing business."
The enforcement operation takes place every year, in coordination with the DFO’s American counterparts.
"All these vessels have GPS, they know they're fishing over the boundary – they just push the line because there's more crab on the other side of that line," Demsky said.
Officials estimated that the number of seized traps only made up half of the illegal traps out on the water.
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