Four View Royal residents are facing various fisheries offences after being caught with 125 live crabs. Of those crabs

Hefty fines are a warning to those illegally harvesting crabs

Sooke RCMP catch four West Shore residents with 124 illegal crabs

Three men and a woman, all from View Royal, have been charged with various fisheries offences after they were caught with 125 live crabs in Sooke, 124 of which were illegal. While the crabs escaped the traps, the four face potentially thousands of dollars in fines and up to six months in jail.

“It should be a substantial deterrence,” said federal fisheries officer Roy Osselton. He hopes that as this story gets more attention, it will also deter those not aware of the punishments for harvesting crabs illegally.

“I’d like to get the word out,” he said, adding the regulations are in place to ensure the sustainability of crab in the region.

Osselton noted that illegal crabbing practices are prevalent, but when the fishing is good, he said, so is compliance. When it’s not, some people are tempted to take undersized or female crabs, both of which are not legal to keep.

It’s not just fishery officers that are on the lookout for fishing offences. The charges mentioned above resulted after a Sooke RCMP officer was patrolling the area around the Sooke Rotary Pier at 1:15 a.m. on July 2. Upon seeing the officer, the three men attempted to flee the area and threw their crabbing gear into the bushes. They were located a short distance away with buckets filled with crabs. In total, they had 125 live crabs in their possession and in a nearby vehicle, which was also occupied by the wife of one of the men.

Of the crabs, 124 were undersized and 110 were female.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, all female dungeness or red rock crabs – regardless of size – must be immediately returned to the water in the least harmful way possible. All crabs must be measured immediately and undersized crabs must also be returned without delay. To harvest crabs, residents must possess a valid Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence, which allows the holder to keep four crabs per day.

“We have two choices, we can issue tickets in the field or appearance notices,” Osselton said. However, he noted keeping female crabs is a relatively new charge that is accompanied by a mandatory appearance notice, so in this case, there was no choice.

The View Royal men, in their 40’s and 60’s, along with the 43-year-old woman, have their first appearance scheduled for Oct. 13.

It will be up to a judge how the fines are broken down and whether jail time will be served.

Each offence is accompanied by a $100 fine plus an additional $50 per crab, up to $1,000. But as Osselton noted, the same crab can be the subject of multiple offences.

“When you’re looking at 125 crabs and 124 are illegal, you’re looking at a lot of fines.” He predicted each offender will be facing between $3,000 to $6,000 in fines, but as he noted, “it’s up to the judge to set.”

Fines aren’t the only punishment offenders can receive, he said. “You can get up to six months in jail if the judge feels it’s necessary.” Although, in this case, he expected that fines will be the only consequence.

As for the area they were fishing in, Osselton said, “we’re working in partnership with the Sooke RCMP to provide as much coverage as we can.”

The crabs were returned to the ocean and are expected to make a full recovery after their late-night ordeal.

To report suspicious fishing activity or habitat violations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada asks the public to call their 24-hour, toll-free line at 1-800-465-4336.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-inspired RV sales soaring on West Shore and beyond

Health restrictions, recommendations keep Vancouver Island vacationers closer to home

New development will pay homage to fallen World War One pilot

1015 Cook St. will become 28 market rental homes with mural

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

Saanich Peninsula business leader calls for education campaign on social distancing

Chamber boss Denny Warner says Sidney demographics make consistent safety protocols necessary

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

Island youth starts virtual race against racism

Cailyn Collins says people can take part in the cause from anywhere

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Most Read