British Columbia

'Atrocious': 250 Dungeness crabs dumped beside highway in Northern B.C.

A massive dump of dead crabs along a main northern highway has triggered a major investigation. About 250 Dungeness crabs were found rotting beside a Highway 16 rest stop, west of Smithers, B.C.

DFO fears dump part of illegal seafood sales

Responding to an online tip in early April, officials discovered this first dump of 250 decaying Dungeness crabs beside Highway 16, west of Smithers, B.C. (Contributed/DFO )

A massive dump of dead crabs along a main northern highway has triggered a major investigation.

The 250 male Dungeness crabs were found rotting beside a Highway 16 rest stop, west of Smithers, B.C., last week. 

Officials believe it's linked to ongoing illegal seafood sales along B.C.'s North Coast.

"I've never had an investigation like that, with a bunch of crab dumped," said B.C. Conservation Service Officer Flint Knibbs. "I would say it's very unusual."

Knibbs was one of the first on the scene, after an online tipster directed officers to a Highway 16 rest stop, between Moricetown and the Hazeltons. 

'It smelled like rotting meat'

"It smelled like rotting meat," said Knibbs. "They were definitely spoiled and starting to smell extremely bad. There were a few birds there starting to pick away at things."

Fisheries officer and DFO field supervisor Carey Ma took over the investigation.

"It was quite atrocious," Ma said. "Just the visual, seeing that. One of the [DFO] officers called me in the middle of the night and said we need to do more."

Seafood squandered

Ma said they decided to do more by taking their investigation public. He hopes to get more tips from the public about illegal North Coast seafood sales.  

Ma said he's upset by the squandering of a food source and the potential impacts of this crab dump on the breeding stock. 

The crab dump violates the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the waste of any fish suitable for human consumption.

About the Author

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener is an award-winning journalist and author. She's been covering the news in central and northern British Columbia for more than 15 years.

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