PORT HARDY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 4, 2013) - The Port Hardy Provincial Court sentenced Ian Garnier, Vessel Master of the F.V. Miss Tatum, on September 19, 2013. Mr. Garnier was found guilty on one count against the Fisheries Act for fishing with a bottom-trawl net inside a closed glass sponge reef area near Queen Charlotte Sound, in northern British Columbia.
Mr. Garnier was found guilty and fined $1,750 by the Honorable Judge Roderick Sutton during a trial on March 13 and 14, 2013. The money will be directed to the Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society to promote the proper management, control, conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat.
The charges stem from a Fisheries Act violation that occurred during a commercial bottom-trawling voyage in August 2010. Mr. Garnier, as master of the F.V. Miss Tatum, fished using a bottom-trawl net inside a glass sponge reef area that is closed year-round to all bottom-trawling to provide protection for this unique ecosystem. Under the conditions of his fishing licence, it was mandatory for Mr. Garnier to record the start, middle, and end position of each tow. GPS coordinates obtained from the vessel's logbook for August 21, 2010, and At Sea Observer records, both confirm the position of the vessel as fishing inside the closed area.
Discovered in 1998, there are four major Hexactinellid (glass) sponge reefs in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. These enormous concentrations of glass sponges cover an area of about 1,000 square kilometres; an estimated 9,000 years old, they are a modern link to reefs that were common during the Jurassic era. Reefs the size of the ones found in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound have not been found elsewhere in the world, contributing to their global importance for protection. In 2002, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, with the support of both the Groundfish Trawl industry and the Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee, formally closed the four large sponge reefs to bottom trawling. The reefs are in the process of designation as a Marine Protected Area under Canada's Oceans Act - http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/protection/mpa-zpm/hecate/index-eng.html.
The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding the long-term health and productivity of Canada's fisheries resources, and the habitat that supports them, for generations to come. Fisheries and Oceans Canada 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 education and awareness activities. As part of our 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.
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