Prince Rupert charter boat owner fined $10,000 for feeding seals, a violation of Canada’s Fisheries Act Marine Mammal Regulations

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PRINCE RUPERT, BC, July 25, 2023 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canada’s wildlife, biodiversity and fisheries resources for generations to come. Fishery officers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) work hard to conserve and protect the environment by enforcing the rules and regulations set out in Canada’s Fisheries Act. Failure to comply with the rules may lead to charges and fines for individuals and companies.

On June 19, 2023, the Honourable Judge D. Patterson sentenced Curtis Ireland to pay a fine of $10,000 for violating the Marine Mammal Regulations. Mr. Ireland, the owner of West Coast Renegade Fishing Charters, had previously pleaded guilty in fall 2022 to disturbing seals by feeding them on July 8, and August 12, 2020 at the Cow Bay Marina in Prince Rupert, B.C.

DFO fishery officers from the Prince Rupert detachment launched an investigation after receiving notification from the Prince Rupert Port Authority about fish charter operators feeding seals. Officers determined that Mr. Ireland was cleaning fish dockside after a fishing charter trip, and was entertaining his clients by feeding the seals. Officers also noted that this activity was done in close proximity to several children at the marina.

In his findings, Justice Patterson noted that Mr. Ireland, as the owner/operator of a charter boat company, had a duty to know and follow the law, and his actions over multiple dates showed a pattern of disdain for the law and an indifference to the consequences for the seals.

DFO has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to enforce the Fisheries Act. As part of DFO’s work to disrupt and prevent illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call DFO Pacific region’s toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336, or email the details to  [email protected].

Image of a guest hand-feeding a seal (CNW Group/Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region)

Quick facts
  • The Marine Mammal Regulations define “disturb” as approaching a marine mammal to feed, swim or interact with it.
  • There are many potential consequences to feeding, attempting to feed and interacting with seals including: altering their natural behaviour through food conditioning, interfering with their ability to forage, hunt and feed on their own, increasing their risk of injury, and making them sick.
  • Seals used to interacting with people can become aggressive when looking for food handouts and are known to bite or injure people when antagonized.
  • There is also the potential for intentional harm to seals and sea lions when people are frustrated with their nuisance behaviour.
  • Fishery officers respond to priority issues through a variety of methods, including aerial, ocean, river, on-the-ground, night and plainclothes patrols. In addition to these patrols, officers work on complex investigations, as well as education and awareness activities.
Associated links
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region

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