British Columbia

Repeat illegal fishing offences land B.C. man in jail — again

A commercial fisherman who sold up to $100,000 in illegally acquired crab and halibut has been sentenced to 21 days in jail for breaching his probation conditions.

Scott Steer has been convicted of several illegal fishing offences over the past few years

Fisher Scott Steer has been sentenced to three weeks' jail for violating his probation terms, which include not boarding a boat other than BC Ferries. (Jerry Kirkhart/Flickr)

A commercial fisherman who sold up to $100,000 in illegally-acquired crab and halibut has been given a rare sentence of 21 days in jail for breaching his probation conditions.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says Scott Steer was arrested at sea on April 10 for "failing to comply with a court order banning him from being on any vessel other than BC Ferries."

Jim Robson, the department's acting area chief for the South Coast, said Steer was apprehended at sea with the help of members of the Canadian Coast Guard while he was en route to crab fishing grounds.  

He said Steer has a "considerable list of violations."

"The disturbing part about this is the repeat nature of the offences," Robson said. 

The DFO said this is Steer's third jail term and that he was previously sentenced for various violations of "high volume, commercial quantities" of unauthorized crab and fish sales, each of them worth thousands of dollars.

Rare sentence

Robson said it's "quite rare" for people to be put in jail for fishing violations.

"I've been an officer in the field for over 25 years, and I know of about half a dozen individuals who have been jailed for fisheries offences," he said.

Steer acquired his stock mostly in the lower Fraser River and the Strait of Georgia, but Robson said Steer has fished illegally on the West Coast of Vancouver Island as well. 

"The impact obviously of concern to us is the conservation of the crab resource," Robson said, adding that other concerns include disruption to commercial fisheries and to other users like First Nations groups. 

The prolific fisherman sold his illegally-acquired stock to vendors and commercial fisheries, Robson said, and possibly to individuals as well. 

Robson reminded people buying seafood they should only do so from a licensed establishment.