Monday, June 24, 2024

BC charter boat operator charged $10,000 for feeding seals off his boat


A charter boat operator was caught on camera feeding seals off his boat and now he has to pay a $10,000 fine to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

On June 19th, a court judge sentenced Curtis Ireland, owner of West Coast Renegade Fishing Charters, to pay the significant fine for his actions.

On two occasions, July 8th and August 12th, 2020, Ireland was seen or caught on camera disturbing seals by feeding them in Cow Bay Marina, Prince Rupert. 

DFO officers launched an investigation into Ireland following a tip from the Prince Rupert Port Authority about numerous charter boats feeding seals.

“Officers determined that Mr. Ireland was cleaning fish dockside after a fishing charter trip, and was entertaining his clients by feeding the seals,” said a DFO spokesperson in a media release. 

“Officers also noted that this activity was done in close proximity to several children at the marina.”

Ireland pleaded guilty to the charge in the fall of last year. 

During sentencing, the judge found that as owner and operator of the charter boat, Ireland should have been more responsible in following the law and not feeding the seals. 

The judge said he showed disdain for the law and indifference to the consequences the animals faced because of his actions.

The DFO says that seals who become used to interacting with people — especially people who feed them — are predisposed to becoming aggressive and biting or injuring people. 

In 2017, a little girl in Richmond was bit by a seal while trying to feed it and the animal dragged her a short distance underwater before letting her go.

Shortly after this incident, feeding seals was banned by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority; however, according to law, feeding or “disturbing” seals has been illegal since 2003. 

Curtis Blandy

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