The British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver has handed a commercial fisherman a rare lifetime ban against fishing, and a prohibition against being onboard a fishing vessel. This, according to the Canadian government, is the first lifetime ban for a Pacific Region fisherman in over a decade.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the penalty against Scott Stanley Matthew Steer, a repeat offender under Canada’s Fisheries Act, on Dec. 20.
The lifetime prohibitions are the result of an incident on March 1, 2020 in Vancouver Harbor when Steer was found illegally fishing for crab and was arrested, along with two crew members, when his vessel was boarded after a high speed pursuit.
Upon apprehension, an estimated 250 live crabs were on the vessel. They were later released, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
In addition to the lifetime bans, Steer was sentenced to six months in jail, minus time served, an additional three years’ probation, including 12 months under curfew and 75 hours of community work.
The judge in the case also banned Steer from involvement in the purchase or sale of fish, including brokering, for five years. Steer was additionally barred from purchasing or selling a fishing vessel, plus ordered to forfeit the aluminum vessel used in the illegal activity, valued at about $50,000.
“The complete disregard Mr. Steer has persistently shown for fisheries laws over the course of many years raises substantial and legitimate concerns around his reliability as a broker of fish or owner of fishing vessels,” Justice Peter H. Edelmann said in his decision. “In my view, Mr. Steer has shown, in no uncertain terms, that he cannot be trusted to adhere to fisheries regulations.”
“The regulation of the commercial fishery relies on the trustworthiness and reliability of the participants in the fishery, including the owners of vessels and fish brokers,” the judge continued. “Given the clear pattern of disregard for fisheries regulations, I find Mr. Steer’s exclusion from the fishery is warranted.”
As of the publication date for this issue, Steer, who has previously been handed extensive fishing bans by the courts, was also awaiting two outstanding trials in Nanaimo for alleged violations of the Fisheries Act.
One of the two crew members arrested with Steer, Sammy Williams, was also convicted for violations of the Fisheries Act on November 30, 2021 in Vancouver Court and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year. The other crew member, Cristopher Schill, pleaded guilty in a separate trial and is also expected to be sentenced in early 2022.