Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

February 09, 2010 15:00 ET

Shellfish Harvesters Fined for Offences in Delta

SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 9, 2010) - Three Vancouver shellfish harvesters received fines after pleading guilty in Surrey Provincial Court December 1, 2009, to offences under the Fisheries Act.

Vancouver residents Cam Ly, Le Dang and Le Son Dang were charged with possessing shellfish harvested from a closed, contaminated area. Following their guilty plea, the men were each fined $700.

On August 2, 2009, during a regular vehicle patrol of the Tsawwassen Causeway in Delta, fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) observed a group of people on the beach in a well known oyster bed. Despite the fact that the entire Lower Mainland is closed for shellfish harvesting due to contamination and that warning signage is clearly displayed in this area, the men were observed actively harvesting oysters. Members of the group, who appeared to not be aware of the area ban on shellfish harvesting or the requirement to obtain recreational fishing licences prior to shellfish harvesting, were detained as they loaded their harvest into a sport utility vehicle (SUV). They were found by the fishery officers to be in possession of 329 oysters and 92 clams, plus two undersized Dungeness crabs. The shellfish were seized and returned live to a closed-to-harvest area of the ocean.

Harvesting shellfish in contaminated areas can have serious 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 extremely concerned about any illegal harvest of shellfish in contaminated areas which are 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, which prohibits shellfish harvesting.

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

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