Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

March 18, 2015 12:00 ET

Illegal Shellfish Harvesting Nets Hefty Fines

Two Prince Rupert Men Caught Harvesting Cockles in a Closed Area

PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 18, 2015) - Two shellfish harvesters received substantial fines in Prince Rupert Provincial Court on February 25, 2015 for violations of the Fisheries Act. Prince Rupert resident Wieler Leslie Innes and former area resident James Frank Russ pled guilty to charges of catching and retaining cockles from the closed contaminated Fairview Container Port beach. The Honourable Judge E. F. De Walle ordered fines of $1,000 for each man.

Quick Facts

  • Fishery officers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada apprehended the men on November 25, 2011 during a routine Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) field patrol of contaminated and closed beach areas in the Prince Rupert area.
  • At the time of the incident, the 244 confiscated cockles were returned live to the ocean.
  • The Fairview Container Port beach is well known locally as a closed contaminated site.
  • It is essential for public health and safety that harvesters of bivalve shellfish always check to ensure that fishing areas are open and approved for harvesting prior to fishing.
  • It is illegal to harvest bivalves in contaminated areas as consuming contaminated fish can have serious health 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 (including contamination with human or animal fecal matter that contains 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 concerned about any harvest of shellfish in contaminated areas that are closed for the health and safety of the public, an activity that is illegal under the Fisheries Act.
  • Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency undertake water and shellfish sampling programs to ensure that areas are safe for shellfish harvesting. All shellfish harvesting is prohibited in areas that are closed by DFO due to PSP and sanitary contamination.

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.

Associated Links

Information on paralytic shellfish poison closures is updated frequently and is available from the following sources:

• A toll free, 24-hour recorded information line: 1-866-431-3474

• Fisheries and Oceans Canada's shellfish contamination webpage:

• Local Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices: (call during regular business hours)

Information on sanitary contamination closures is available at:


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Contact Information

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