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More large fines for illegal fishing

A man caught in Sechelt Inlet with more than the legal limit of oysters, sea cucumbers and whelks, has been fined $3,000.
Sea cuke
Sea cucumber was one of the species a man was recently fined for over harvesting in Sechelt Inlet

A man caught in Sechelt Inlet with more than the legal limit of oysters, sea cucumbers and whelks, has been fined $3,000.

Fisheries officer Ben Rahier of the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s (DFO) Powell River office, which patrols the entire Sunshine Coast, said Zi Yin Liu was ticketed May 1 on three counts of catching and retaining more than the daily quota.

According to Sechelt Provincial Court records, Liu agreed to pay the fine before his hearing was scheduled to start on May 14.

Rahier said in recent cases, especially where rockfish were involved, the court has been imposing tough sentences and forfeitures.

Two other cases that went to sentencing earlier this year resulted in fines of $5,000 or more.

Qian Chen was found guilty Feb. 26 on one count of catching more than the daily quota of rock fish near Pender Harbour in 2019. He was fined $5,000 and had to forfeit the gear he was using that day.

On Jan. 24, Yu Rang Tang and Deli Gao were found guilty in a case tied to illegal fishing in the Egmont area in 2018. They were fined a total of $6,500 and Tang was ordered to forfeit the boat DFO officers seized that day.

Another major case, the sentencing of Charles Larry Nichols and Kristopher Elvis Nichols on six counts each related to fisheries violations near Nelson Island in 2017, has been caught up in the delays caused when B.C. Provincial Court operations were suspended because of the COVID pandemic. 

The pair had been scheduled to appear in court April 24, but the case has been put off until July 23 when a new date for sentencing is expected to be set if the court is sitting.

The Crown is expected to ask for large fines and forfeiture of the vessel involved.

Rahier said the pandemic does not seem to have dissuaded recreational anglers and shellfish harvesters from heading out, and DFO officers are continuing enforcement and education efforts.

“I’d say it’s business as usual as far as the amount of vessels on the water and individuals on the beaches,” Rahier said, adding that with the delayed opening of the spot prawn season there’s actually been a bit more activity on the water than a typical early June.