Acting on tips from citizens, Fisheries officers arrested three men and seized a vessel crabbing illegally off Roberts Creek on the night of Jan. 26.
Three Fisheries officers from Nanaimo and three from Powell River aboard a large zodiac boat seized an open aluminum crabbing vessel around 11pm. None of the three arrested were Sunshine Coast residents, and charges have not yet been laid.
Thomas Hlavac, Area Chief of Conservation and Protection for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said he was particularly concerned that the men were fishing in an area closed due to dioxin contamination.
“Given the number of traps and crabs released, it’s my belief those crabs were going to be sold,” said Hlavac. “That’s a significant risk because people buying crabs might not know they were contaminated.”
Fisheries officers and the Coast Guard ship Martin Charles returned to the area over the weekend to drag for traps, seizing 38 on Saturday and another 50 on Sunday. They also hauled in some “ghost traps” – sports fishing traps that had lost their buoys.
“What made it successful for us was the information we received from the public,” said Hlavac. Fisheries had received numerous reports of a boat fishing at night between Roberts Creek and Chaster Creek.
Six Fisheries officers were called in for this situation, since arrests at night on the water can be risky. “When we dedicate six Fisheries officers, it’s nice to have good information,” he said.
Hlavac urged members of the public to use the violation reporting line 1-800-465-4336. Although many calls are not returned, he said all the information received is in put into Fisheries databases, and even “a vague tidbit” can be helpful to a patrol.