Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

December 14, 2009 15:00 ET

Fisheries and Oceans Canada: $3,000 Fine for Surrey Man Harvesting Shellfish From Quadra Island

CAMPBELL RIVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2009) - A recreational shellfish harvester received a large fine after pleading guilty to two offences under the Fisheries Act, in Campbell River Provincial Court October 19, 2009.

Surrey resident Ngoc Thanh Nguyen appeared before the Honourable Judge Eldon Iverson to answer charges of possessing quantities of shellfish that were more than twice the daily quota as prescribed under the conditions of his licence. Mr. Nguyen, who was supplied with an interpreter, was fined a total of $3,000 for being in possession of over-limit clams and over-limit oysters. He had a previous conviction and fine from June 2009 for fishing for clams in a contaminated area.

On August 21, 2009, Campbell River-based fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) received a complaint about persons seen harvesting clams in a contaminated area at Drew Harbour on Quadra Island. The complaint included detailed descriptions of the people involved and vehicle information. Acting on this information, fishery officers met the recreational harvesters when the Quadra Island ferry docked in Campbell River, and with the assistance of ferry staff, pulled their two cars aside for a compliance inspection. 

Mr. Nguyen was found to be in possession of a total of 139 oysters, 79 of which were over the limit of his recreational harvesting licence, and 1,044 clams, 744 of which were over the limit of his licence. Mr. Nguyen stated that the shellfish had been harvested outside of the contaminated area, so the clams and oysters over the possession limit were seized and returned live to a closed-to-harvest area of the ocean.

Harvesting in contaminated areas can have serious consequences. Bivalve shellfish, which have a hinged, two-part shell and include oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles, can be affected by paralytic shellfish poison (PSP, also known as red tide) and sanitary contamination. Eating bivalves that have been affected by PSP can result in serious illness or death. Cooking the fish prior to consumption does not destroy PSP or eliminate this risk.

Water and shellfish sampling programs are undertaken by Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure that fishing areas are safe for shellfish harvesting. Areas that exceed allowable limits for PSP and sanitary contamination are closed by DFO, which prohibits shellfish harvesting.

DFO acts to end illegal fishing activities. As part of this work, the Department asks the general 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 reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.

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