Poacher Fined for $18,000 for Crab Fishing in a Glass Sponge Reef Protected Area

Crab stocks in BC have been declining for years, with the Fisheries Ministry saying this could be due to a combination of environmental conditions, warming waters, poaching and other issues. Photo credit: ChristiLaLiberte on iStock

On July 19, 2023, the British Columbia Supreme Court upheld a provincial court decision to fine Jin Lun Aaron Zhang for illegal fishing in a glass sponge reef protected area, fishing with too many traps, and using improperly marked gear.

Unfortunately, this type of justice does not occur often, as less than five percent of poachers, including crab poachers, are actually caught. Studies show that government agencies simply do not have the capacity to effectively carry out compliance and enforcement activities across BC’s vast coast. First Nations report that BC Park and DFO enforcement officers are only on their territory once or twice a year, while other relevant agencies, such as Fish and Wildlife, make no appearances at all. 

The ruling noted that officers also seized 474 shrimp and 49 prawn, which had been illegally harvested. Officers also found perch, flounder, rockfish, Dungeness crabs, and six dogfish cut up in pieces. Photo credit: Ashley Belle Burns on Dreamstime

This means that this specific crab poaching incident represents a drop in the ocean with the majority of poachers, including crab poachers, not being caught. This is one reason why Strong Coast supports the establishment of the Great Bear Sea Marine Protected Area Network, as it seems that catching poachers requires an increased presence on the water. The Great Bear Sea MPA Network will bring that increased presence, as it will be built on local management, including enforcement. 

Read this Northshore News article on this rare case of a crab poacher paying the piper.