Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

January 14, 2010 16:00 ET

Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Illegal Oysters Net Fines for Sechelt Couple

SECHELT, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 14, 2010) - An investigation carried out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has resulted in fines for two Sunshine Coast residents convicted of Fisheries Act violations for harvesting shellfish from a contaminated area.

On November 4, 2009, Douglas Paul Bernard and Jeanette Teresa Bernard pled guilty in Sechelt Provincial Court to harvesting oysters from a contaminated area of Burnett Bay in Porpoise Bay that was closed to shellfish harvesting. Each was fined $250.

Fishery officers initially investigated the couple August 20, 2009, when they were observed with oysters in an area clearly marked closed due to contamination. An officer followed the Bernards to their residence, where they were found shucking approximately 10 oysters. The officer advised them of the closure, confiscated the shellfish and issued appearance notices for the violations. The couple had been warned about harvesting shellfish from the same closed area on a previous occasion.

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 (including human or animal fecal matter that contain bacteria or viruses hazardous to human health such as Norwalk, Hepatitis A, or salmonella). Eating bivalves that have been affected by PSP, or other contaminants, can result in serious illness or death. Cooking the shellfish prior to consuming it does not destroy PSP or eliminate these risks. DFO is extremely concerned about any illegal harvest of shellfish in contaminated areas which have been closed to protect the health and safety of the public.

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, and shellfish harvesting is prohibited.

DFO acts to end illegal fishing activity. 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 violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
    Leri Davies
    Strategic Media Relations Advisor
    (604) 666-8675