Man guilty of selling illegally-harvested halibut

James Wadhams has been in trouble with the Department of Fisheries before.

A First Nations man who sold halibut to the owners of two fish and chip shops in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows has been found guilty of three charges under the Fisheries Act.

James Robert Wadhams, a resident of Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, faced a total of 10 charges under the act for allegedly peddling the fish that had been caught under an aboriginal communal license for food, social, ceremonial purposes.

He will be sentenced in October.

Crown prosecutor Digby Kier called the conviction important because halibut is an important resource and is threatened by illegal harvesting.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans began a year-and-a-half-long investigation into Wadhams after it received tips from the public on Vancouver Island.

Surveillance was conducted on Wadhams, who was seen delivering fish to Amy Zhuo Hua Zheng and Michael Kam Fuk Ching, who have since pleaded guilty to the offences.

Ching, who owns Austin Fish and Chips in Valley Fair Mall in Maple Ridge, was fined $5,000 for three Fisheries Act contraventions, while Zheng, who owns Austin Fish and Chips in Pitt Meadows, got a $500 fine for two violations.

Wadhams has been in trouble with the Department of Fisheries before.

In 2005, he was charged after fishery officers observed him and another man selling sockeye salmon to the public in the community of Woss, B.C.

Wadhams was fined $5,000 in Port Hardy Provincial Court on Nov. 19, 2008 after pleading guilty to selling fish caught by a harvester without a license authorizing sales.

Crown would not say what kind of a sentence it would be seeking this time.