An angler caught fishing with a barbed hook in Maple Ridge is on the hook for $575.
Conservation officers who were patrolling the Alouette River checked out three anglers who were fishing for steelhead trout about two weeks ago. One of them was found using the illegal hook.
Fines have generally tripled, said Leri Davies, spokesperson for the Pacific region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, since changes to the Contraventions Regulations came into effect April 28 last year.
The fine for using a barbed hook went from $150 to $500 plus a 15 per cent surcharge.
“This change represents the first significant increase in fine amounts in decades and has been supported by the sports fishing community,” said Davies.
Not only did fines go up, but now federal fishery and provincial conservation officers can issue tickets for additional minor fishery offences in the province, instead of having to go to court. Federal fishery officers and provincial conservation officers, noted Davies, have authorities under each other’s mandated regulations to issue tickets.
The expansion of the list of minor offences will allow officers and courts to focus on more serious offences and, as a result, improve the effectiveness of courts in delivering verdicts. In addition to courts, the new list of minor offences will also lessen the burden on fishery officers, and commercial and recreational harvesters, by providing an efficient alternative for the prosecution of minor offences, explained a Government of Canada announcement about the new fines.
Base fines now range from $100 to $750.
Barbed hooks are prohibited because they cause severe damage to the fish when the hooks are swallowed.
“They cause the fish to bleed, usually from the gills, which is fatal. Barbed hooks simply kill too many fish. Barbless hooks allow the fish to be released live and relatively unharmed,” explained Davies.
Most barbed hooks are manufactured in other countries where barbless hooks are not a requirement. The barb needs to be fully pinched to meet barbless hooks regulatory requirements or anglers need to purchase barbless versions that are available in most sporting goods stores.
The hooks are prohibited in any stream across the Lower Mainland, advised Davies.
Davies wants anglers to know that federal fishery officers and provincial conservation officers are actively checking for violations.
Another angler was also issued a ticket by a Langley conservation and protection officer within the past couple of weeks for using a barbed hook, again along the Alouette.
“The C&P detachment in Langley conducted over 1,000 recreational fishing checks this past season and issued approximately 200 warnings and tickets,” noted Davies, in an area stretching from Vancouver to Mission, including marine, tidal and non-tidal waters.
Fisheries officers can use their discretion on what enforcement is needed given a situation, said Davies.
“Fishery officers may issue a warning instead of a ticket, or lay charges, or choose to proceed through the courts when necessary,” she said adding that the action chosen will depend on a number of factors, like the severity of the infraction, the accused’s history of non-compliance, or the conservation measure breached.
However, anglers are responsible for checking regulations for the area where they intend to fish, keeping in mind that regulations can change on short notice. Fishers must know what they are fishing for and have the appropriate licence. Fishers should also be aware of whether they are fishing in tidal waters or in non-tidal waters – as separate licences are required for each and different regulations apply.
For DFO rules and regulations for recreational fishing in B.C. go to dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
Anyone with information about suspicious activities, suspected violations or contravention of the Fisheries Act and Regulations are being asked to call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336 or email at DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
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