The names of the three men apprehended for illegally possessing more than a tonne of Northern abalone have not yet been released.
The arrests were made near Port Edward February 20, but the men, believed to be from the islands, were released on strict conditions to appear in court, says Blair Thexton of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Prince Rupert.
The charges have been sent to the crown to be sworn and when they are approved the fisheries officers will officially lay the charges on the three.
Mr. Thexton says everyone is taking a little longer with this case, due to its significance.
An estimated 11,000 abalone were seized after DFO officers lay in wait for the commercial vessel to come ashore. Officers had been investigating for two years and this was the largest seizure of its kind to take place in BC. The fishery has been closed since 1990 due to extreme conservation concerns and in 1999, northern abalone were declared threatened under the Species at Risk Act.
“We want to make sure we have an air tight case,” says Mr. Thexton.
DFO reminds everyone that Northern abalone are protected and killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking them is prohibited under SARA.
The stocks have not improved since the fishery was closed and unauthorized harvest is one of the largest threats to the species.
Anyone with information about suspicious activity related to Northern abalone harvesting can call the 24-hour Observe, Record, Report line at 1-800-465-4336.
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