A Dungeness crab caught in Haida Gwaii. (Dale Simonson/Flickr)

Father and son fined $31,000 for crab fishing offences

Majority of fines to be spent on fish conservation projects on Haida Gwaii

A father and son who are lifelong fishermen will pay $31,200 in fines for illegal crab fishing near Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella.

Steve Tarkanen, 61, and his son Jory Tarkanen, 32, both pled guilty for leaving crab traps in the water too long, for failing to return halibut caught as bycatch, and for failing to log or report sales of their catches after one fishing trip near Masset in 2014 and another near Bella Bella in 2016.

While the fishermen’s lawyer recommended fines of $11,000, Judge Barbara Flewelling ruled on Aug. 24 that they should pay a penalty closer to the $42,200 sought by the Crown.

“A fine should be meaningful, and should be more than the price of doing business,” Flewelling wrote.

“I am not at all satisfied that either of these gentlemen is genuinely remorseful and take responsibility for their actions in the true sense of the words,” she added, after reviewing the way the case was investigated.

“For each of the offences, there was an excuse proffered to deflect or minimize their own responsibility.”

Flewelling said the only reason the Tarkanens were caught is because First Nation fishery guardians near Bella Bella noticed in June 2016 that their crab traps were “oversoaked,” meaning they had been set under water for longer than 18 days.

In fact, more than half of the 339 traps they set were soaked for between 28 and 35 days — many of the crabs were dead in the traps when they were finally hauled to dock.

Alerted by the fishery guardians, a fishery officer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) met Steve and Jory Tarkanen to review their log books.

While the books said the traps had only been soaking up to 18 days, a GPS monitor aboard their boat, the Vikla I, showed otherwise.

Furthermore, a review of video footage from 2014 shows crew members on the Vikla I cutting up live halibut to use as bait for crab traps set near Haida Gwaii. Under the Fisheries Act, halibut caught as bycatch must be returned to the sea with the least harm possible.

While acknowledging that it is not a defence since he was vessel master for the Vikla I at the time, Steve Tarkanen said the crew member was new, and that he hadn’t known he was cutting live halibut.

Judge Flewelling was unimpressed by that excuse and, after reviewing evidence including mechanic’s records, by another the owners gave for the oversoaking near Bella Bella — that the vessel was in for emergency repairs, delaying the hauling up of the traps.

“This excuse is, in my view, another attempt to deflect personal responsibility,” Flewelling wrote.

The judge’s decision noted that Fisheries Act offences are all of strict liability, and all licensed fishermen are expected to know the rules in detail.

“There is no tolerance for ‘almost’ or ‘close’ compliance.”

Of the $31,200 total penalty, $25,000 will be available from local DFO officers for projects that protect or conserve fish habitat around Haida Gwaii. For more information, call the Masset DFO office at 250-626-3316.



andrew.hudson@haidagwaiiobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

President and CEO leaving Coast Mountain College

Burt will say goodbye to CMNT come September

Marathon day on Haida Gwaii

Totem to Totem race looks to set another participation record

World’s largest animal spotted off coast of Haida Gwaii

Fisheries and Oceans Canada spotted the animal during their Science At-Sea mission

Two monumental poles return home to Haida Gwaii

The artifacts ended up in Vancouver by being taken, appropriated, stolen, or sold through the years

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Most Read