B.C. fisherman charged after throwing explosive into crowd of sea lions
Herring fisherman in Strait of Georgia says he used a ‘bear banger’ to disperse a group of sea lions
A commercial fisherman from B.C. has been charged with throwing an explosive device toward a group of sea lions in the Strait of Georgia last year.
Allen Marsden is facing three counts under the Fisheries Act and Explosives Act for tossing a small, explosive device known as a "bear banger" from his boat toward the crowd of animals on March 4, 2019.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirmed the charges Wednesday but declined to comment further.
A video of the explosion posted to Facebook last year shows Marsden lighting the fuse of the bear banger before throwing it into the water. (The devices are typically used to scare away bears or other animals on land.)
After the blast, the sea lions can be seen swimming away. Marsden can be heard laughing in the video.
WATCH | Commercial fisherman Allen Marsden throws a 'bear banger' off his vessel in 2019:
The footage was posted to the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society Facebook page, which describes itself as a group of British Columbians who advocate for monitoring and population management of seals and sea lions.
Marsden previously told CBC News he only used the bear banger to get the sea lions to move away from the fishing area.
"We're not out there trying to kill the sea lions. We're not out there looking for sea lions. We'd rather if they weren't here," said Marsden.
"They are here, we're trying to make a living, and we're just trying to figure out a way to deal with both issues."
Marsden said he took part in the video to educate the public about sea lions' threat to the fishing industry. The fisherman said he'd been looking for herring samples at the time to check the percentage of roe in the fish, but the sea lions were driving the herring away from the surface.
Marsden added the explosive was needed to ensure the safety of fishermen. He said he'd personally been bitten in the past.
Marsden is set to appear in court in Courtenay, B.C., on March 26.
It is against federal regulations to disturb, harm or kill marine mammals, according to the DFO.
A summary conviction under the Fisheries Act is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 or one year in prison.
A first offence under the Explosives Act is punishable by a fine up to $50,000. That maximum fine doubles for subsequent offences.
With files from Cory Correia and CHEK News