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Landmark prohibition imposed after B.C. men caught crab fishing in US waters

4 men fined, forfeit more than $287K in commercial crab fleet investigation
(Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Four men are facing fines and forfeitures totalling more than $287,000 after an investigation into a commercial crab fleet in Boundary Bay.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in a news release Monday (Sept. 18) that an investigation by fishery officers with the DFO resulted in several convictions in Surrey Provincial Court recently, with four vessel masters receiving fines and forfeitures. One captain received a first-ever fishing prohibition.

Han Van Lam, master of the vessel John Lam, pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to illegally fishing in U.S. waters off Boundary Bay during the 2019 and 2020 commercial seasons. The DFO says that under the Fisheries Act it is illegal to for anyone on a vessel subject to Canadian jurisdiction to fish outside of Canadian fisheries waters.

Lam, who has had previous violations, was fined $50,000 for the most recent incidents. He also forfeited 96 traps that had been seized as evidence, and was prohibited from fishing for the first 14 days of the annual commercial season openings in 2024 and 2025. The DFO says this is the first time that prohibition was imposed by the courts.

Also on Aug. 4, Michael Hau, master of the Muoi H, pleaded guilty to failing to scan his traps during the 2018, 2019 and 2020 crab fishing seasons, as per the conditions of his licence. Hau was fined $20,000 and forfeited a further $19,030.68 from the value of his catch.

Hoan Trung Do, master of the Bounty Hunter, pleaded guilty on June 27 to fishing in U.S. waters, as well as setting more traps than allowed under the condition of his licence in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He was fined $160,000.

On June 23, Viet Dam, master of the Pacific Falcon, pleaded guilty to illegally fishing in U.S. waters and fishing more traps than were allowed under the conditions of his licence in 2019. He was fined $38,000 and forfeited 83 traps.

In 2022, a pilot project saw companies that own vessels in Canada agreeing to mandatory installation of video cameras as part of electronic monitoring. The initiative has been in full effect for the 2023 season and the DFO says “it has already resulted in a marked decrease in fishing in U.S. waters.”

The DFO says commercial crab fishing accounts for about 31 per cent of the wholesale value of B.C.’s wild shellfish products.

READ MORE: ‘Rampant illegal fishing’ near Vancouver compromising rockfish populations: DFO

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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