Courtenay B.C. – An on-site investigation and audit of paperwork by fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Conservation and Protection Aquaculture Unit led to a guilty plea and $10,000 in fines for Keith Chui, a commercial clam fish harvester who co-owns an area aquaculture licence.
On February 17, 2021, in Courtenay Provincial Court, after hearing the evidence and considering three DFO impact statements, the Honourable Judge Brian Hutcheson found Mr. Chui guilty of eight counts of violations against Canada’s Fisheries Act, including incomplete information on mandatory shellfish container tags, inaccurate information of product harvested from his aquaculture site spanning several years, and failure to submit two Annual Aquaculture Statistical reports (AASR).
Shellfish aquaculture in B.C. is an important industry to the provincial economy, accounting for an approximate landed value of $20 to 25 million annually, with the majority of shellfish culturing locations concentrated along the southern coast. DFO is the lead regulatory authority for aquaculture operations, working in partnership with other governmental agencies that oversee aspects like food safety and water quality. Together, they manage the B.C. Shellfish Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plan to ensure that shellfish aquaculture in B.C. operates sustainably, with minimal damage to fish and fish habitat, and in accordance with Canada’s International Treaties.
DFO 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.