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Man whose boat was seized for illegal crab fishing in Burrard Inlet nets further $6,000 fine

Vessel spotted without navigation lights in path of SeaBus led fisheries officers on a high-speed chase
crab traps
A Vancouver Island man has been fined $6,000, and had his fishing boat forfeited, after being found guilty of several fisheries offences.

A man whose fishing boat was seized by authorities after being used for illegal crab fishing in Burrard Inlet has been handed an additional $6,000 fine.

Judge Lyndsay Smith handed the fine to Sammy Alvin-Raymond John Williams, 32, of Gold River, B.C., July 13, in North Vancouver provincial court.

Smith found Williams guilty in November of several fishing offences including setting gear in Burrard Inlet during a closed time, fishing for Dungeness crab in waters during a closed time, fishing without a licence, and possessing crab in contravention of the Federal Fisheries Act.

Fisheries officers netted three men on fisheries charges following a high-speed chase of a fishing boat in Burrard Inlet on the night of March 1, 2020.

The trio on board the boat had been fishing at night in the inlet, with no navigation lights on, using unmarked crab traps attached to a line that they pulled up from the bottom of the harbour, including fishing in the path of the SeaBus, a Crown prosecutor said.

250 Dungeness crabs seized

When officers boarded the boat, they found 250 Dungeness crabs as well as four commercial crab traps. Another three traps were recovered from the bottom of the harbour.

Crown counsel Chantelle Coulson had asked for an $18,000 fine, describing Williams’ actions as “an egregious incidence of poaching.”

But in handing down her fine, Smith noted that as Williams’ fishing boat had been forfeited to the Crown, his chances of earning enough money to pay a large fine were “extremely limited.”

$20K fishing vessel forfeited

Noting that the fishing boat was worth more than $20,000 and had been bought with proceeds of a residential school survivor settlement paid to Williams’ father, Smith added she was satisfied that the seizure of the vessel was “a significant deterrent.”

The judge noted that Williams, a member of the Muchalaht First Nation, had had a disadvantaged upbringing and lives in a remote community where employment is limited.

She added that although the illegal fishing took place with Williams’ fishing boat, he was not the ringleader of the group and was not the person driving the boat during the high-speed chase with fisheries officers.

In an earlier written decision describing the events of that night, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Edelmann described how just before midnight on March 1, 2020, SeaBus operators reported a small vessel in Vancouver Harbour without its lights on. Fisheries officers were dispatched to the scene where they testified seeing the vessel listing to the side in a manner consistent with hauling crab traps up from the sea floor. Fisheries officers described how after they approached, the vessel suddenly straightened, left suddenly, and started driving erratically at a high rate of speed.

High speed chase to Lonsdale Quay

Fisheries officers said the pursuit on the water lasted for about 10 minutes, ending at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver where the officers jumped aboard the fishing vessel.

A co-accused in the case, fisherman Scott Stanley Matthew Steer, was earlier handed a six-month jail sentence and lifetime crab fishing ban for his repeated and flagrant flouting of fisheries laws, including five offences stemming from the same incident.

A third man aboard the boat, Christopher Robin Shill, was fined $5,000 for obstruction of a fisheries officer in connection with the case in December.

jseyd@nsnews.com
twitter.com/JaneSeyd

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