The owner of the commercial fishing vessel Ocean Provider has been fined $6,000 for fishing without a licence in Barkley Sound last summer, after Fisheries and Oceans Canada inspectors seized 2,250 albacore tuna.
The catch, totalling about 15,000 kilograms, was valued at $127,824.
Ocean Provider is owned by a numbered company with several partners, DFO said. The company pleaded guilty in Port Alberni provincial court to fishing without a licence between July 2022 and Aug. 15, 2022 in the sound, located at the mouth of Alberni Inlet.
The offence was “a serious violation” of international fisheries obligations, DFO said in a statement Wednesday.
It was discovered during routine inspections of Canadian and American fishing vessels by fisheries officers aboard Tanu, a Canadian Coast Guard vessel that is used to support DFO work.
Officers boarded the Ocean Provider 42 nautical miles offshore of the Bamfield area.
“The crew were actively fishing and officers determined that the vessel was not licensed to fish for tuna at that time,” the statement said. “The vessel was escorted to port by the fishery officers, where the catch was offloaded for processing and seizure.”
The North Pacific albacore tuna fishery runs in zones in both Canada and the United States, with boats active from the southern California coast to the Canadian west coast. It operates under the U.S./Canada Tuna Treaty.
The fishery usually peaks in September after the salmon season tails off for trollers, but fewer opportunities to fish for salmon in Canada in recent years have led to the tuna fleet starting earlier.
DFO said members of the public can report details of illegal fishing activity and contraventions of the Fisheries Act to the Pacific region’s toll-free violation-reporting line at 1-800-465-4336, or by emailing DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.