Officers conduct blitz to enforce fishery regulations in Gulf Islands

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region

Press Release

Wednesday, August 4 2021

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. Fishery officers ensure and promote 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.

Over the two days of July 9 and 10, 2021,  fishery officers from DFO’s Conservation and Protection branch (C&P) from Powell River, Nanaimo, Duncan, Victoria, and Annacis Island conducted an enforcement blitz of B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands to enforce provisions under the Fisheries Act and its regulations.  Officers focused on current fishery closures for the protection of salmon and rockfish stocks, as well as patrolling closed areas designated as Interim Sanctuary Zones (ISZs) for the sustainability of Southern Resident killer whales; Rockfish Conservation Areas; and beaches closed to bivalve harvest under the Canadian Sanitary Shellfish Program (CSSP). 

This operation involved 5 vessels, 1 land-based platform and a dedicated aircraft from DFO’s Fisheries Aerial Surveillance and Enforcement Program (FASE).  

Their patrol efforts ranged from Gabriola Island to Race Rocks. Over the two day period, officers checked 76 vessels and 187 anglers and found the following violations:

• retention of wild coho;

• retention of undersized lingcod;

• fishing inside RCA closures;

• transiting through Southern Resident Killer Whale ISZs;

• over limits of crab and rockfish;

• using barbed hooks while salmon fishing;

• not having descending devices;

• unmarked recreational prawn traps, and

• failing to produce fishing licences.

While warning have been issued for some of these violations, officers will conduct investigations into more serious infractions that may result in the issuance of prescribed fines, or possibly a Court appearance.

In addition to protecting fish stocks, officers also assisted with two on-water emergencies; a Mayday distress call of a vessel taking on water; and assisting Air Ambulance with an evacuation of an injured person from a beach.

This operation was also conducted in conjunction with Operation Kelp Stout; a multi-agency U.S.A. and Canada marine-based blitz in collaboration with Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. enforcement counterparts U.S. Customs and Border Protection USCBP and U.S. Coast Guard. 

DFO C&P will continue to participate in similar operations throughout the summer in collaboration with its’ partner agencies.  

S. Gulf Island BlitzThis was a highly successful enforcement effort that demonstrates C&P’s ability to strategize and allocate enforcement resources to target areas of high priority in the Region.  It also demonstrates the Department’s commitment to protecting the sustainability of Canada’s marine resources.

As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on any suspicious or potentially illegal activities, 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 or via email at DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca