PRINCE RUPERT, BC, Jan. 25, 2018 /CNW/ - On December 18, 2017, in Prince Rupert Provincial Court, McNeill Fishing Ltd. pleaded guilty to multiple violations of the Fisheries Act. The Honourable Judge Stewart sentenced McNeill Fishing Ltd. to a total financial penalty of $20,000, a forfeiture order of $13,598 from the proceeds of sale of seized commercial spot prawn and a Court order prohibition that McNeill Fishing Ltd. "during the period on and between January 1, 2018 and October 4, 2019, shall not employ, direct or permit Michael Stanley McNeill to participate in its commercial prawn fishing operations, if any, including:
(a) being on board a licenced commercial prawn vessel while that vessel is being prepared for or is engaging in commercial prawn fishing;
(b) purchasing, setting, transporting, or selling commercial prawn fishing gear or bait;
(c) selling prawn;
(d) obtaining or leasing commercial prawn fishing licences;
(e) hiring or training commercial prawn fishing crew;
(f) aiding, employing or directing someone to carrying out the activities in (a) through (e); and
(g) possessing an interest in any commercial prawn fishing licence or any vessel licenced to participate in commercial prawn fishing (including legal, equitable, absolute, contingent, operational, financial or beneficial interests)."
The sentence directed that $16,500 of the fine be directed to fish and fish habitat conservation in Haida Gwaii and took into account that the commercial prawn vessels Mega Bite and Zomby Woof were both under seizure for seven months and unable to participate in any fisheries for that period.
This is the second fine for Mr. McNeill and his company in the last two years for violating fishing rules. In 2016, Mr. McNeill pleaded guilty to multiple violations of the Fisheries Act and was sentenced to a financial penalty of $20,000, a forfeiture order and a court ordered commercial prawn fishing prohibition. These convictions arose out of breaches of Mr. McNeill's commercial prawn fishing licence conditions and mixing Food, Social and Ceremonial prawn with commercial prawn.
- The prawn harvest is a $30 million per year fishery that includes commercial, recreational and First Nations fisheries.
- The commercial fishery is a limited entry fishery (four to six weeks each Spring) with 246 licence eligibilities, which include 60 designated communal commercial licences for First Nations participation.
- It was the fifth most valuable wild capture fishery in 2015, after the halibut, crab, sablefish and geoduck/horseclam fisheries.
- Excess and illegal harvesting threatens conservation. It also could result in management changes or closures, diminish the significant economic benefit from the fishery to coastal communities, recreational fisheries, commercial harvesters, and threaten the food source for Indigenous people.
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.
The current Integrated Fisheries Management Plan can be found at: http://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/40585785.pdf
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
For further information: Leri Davies, Strategic Media Relations Advisor, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region, Tel: (604) 666-8675, Cell: 604-612-6837, Internet: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca