Prince Rupert, B.C. – A significant British Columbia court case was finalized on April 21, 2021, by Prince Rupert Provincial Court, against Silas Miro Levesque, commercial master of the vessel Wind Walker. Mr. Levesque was found guilty of fishing for lingcod in a culturally significant closed area inside the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site.
The Honourable Judge Paul Dohm ordered Mr. Levesque, who pleaded guilty on February 18, 2021, to pay a fine of $20,000 for violations of Canada’s Fisheries Act which occurred between October 30, 2018, and May 4, 2019. The Judge further ordered that Mr. Levesque pay an additional $25,000 as a 79.2 court order, to go towards the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat on and around Haida Gwaii.
According to electronic monitoring data, Mr. Levesque was fishing in a Strict Protection Zone that was closed to fishing as part of the marine zoning plan within the Land-Sea-People Management Plan. This area was identified as an ecologically important and culturally sensitive area adjacent to a Haida village site protected by the Haida Nation and Parks Canada, and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The site commemorates the living culture of Haida people and their relationship to the land and sea.
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.