Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 30, 2009 14:00 ET

Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Vancouver Island Women Fined for Harvesting Clams From a Contaminated Closed Area

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2009) - An investigation carried out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada has resulted in fines for two Sidney women caught harvesting shellfish illegally.

Anh A Tu and Thu Kui Tu pled guilty to harvesting clams from a contaminated area of Coles Bay Beach in Saanich Inlet that was closed to shellfish harvesting and were convicted May 11, 2009, in Victoria Provincial Court The women were each fined $1,000 and were warned that any future violations of this nature on their part would result in a period of incarceration.

Fishery officers initially investigated and arrested the women on May 27, 2008, acting on information received from the public. Despite numerous posted signs that clearly demarked a contaminated closed area, the women were found to be in possession of 250 pounds of clams. A further search revealed an additional 100 pounds of clams hidden in nearby bushes. All of the shellfish was subsequently returned live into the beach.

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 consuming it 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 Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and shellfish harvesting is prohibited. Several sections of the Saanich Peninsula are closed to shellfish harvesting.

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.

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