Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 22, 2016 17:00 ET

Haida Gwaii Prawn Fisherman Fined $20,000 for Illegally Selling Food, Social and Ceremonial Fish Into the Commercial Market

MASSET, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 22, 2016) - An investigation by Conservation and Protection fishery officers has resulted in a significant fine for commercial prawn harvester Michael Stanley McNeill. On October 4, 2016, in Queen Charlotte Provincial Court, Mr. McNeill pleaded guilty to three violations of the Fisheries Act for the illegal harvest and subsequent sale of spot prawns caught under a First Nations Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) licence.

On June 25 to 26, 2015, DFO fishery officers observed Mr. McNeill operating the commercial fishing vessel Megabite in Cumshewa Inlet on Haida Gwaii. Mr. McNeill retrieved six strings of commercial prawn gear and three strings of FSC gear in a single day. All the spot prawns were subsequently sold to a commercial buyer.

Justice H. J. Seidemann fined Mr. McNeill $1,000 for each count, for a total of $3,000. In addition, Justice Seidemann added a fine of $17,000 to be paid to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for conservation in and around Haida Gwaii. He further ordered that the proceeds from the sale of the prawns be forfeited, and prohibited Mr. McNeill from participating in commercial prawn fishing for three years, plus report to DFO before undertaking any FSC prawn fishing for the next two years.

Quick Facts

  • Fishery officers seized 463 pounds of Spot Prawn, valued at $2,315 on the commercial market.
  • Under the terms of the Fisheries Act, buying or selling fish caught for food, social or ceremonial purposes is illegal and Fisheries and Oceans Canada enforces the regulations stringently.
  • Only fish caught under a licence, which permits the sale, or purchase of fish, may be purchased or sold. Any fish sold must be processed through a licensed plant to ensure quality and public safety. Fish that has not been inspected may be unsafe for consumption.

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 as education and awareness activities. As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's 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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Contact Information

  • Leri Davies
    Strategic Media Relations Advisor
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
    604-666-8675 or Cell: 604-612-6837