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B.C. man becomes 1st to be convicted under tough new whale protection rules

A photo of the humpback whale just before the illegal interaction with the fishing guide that was entered as evidence.
A photo of the humpback whale just before the illegal interaction with the fishing guide that was entered as evidence. Department of Fisheries and Oceans

A B.C. guide who got too close to a humpback whale north of Prince Rupert in the summer of 2018 has become the first person convicted under Canada’s tougher rules to protect marine mammals.

Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) say Scott Babcock was given a $2,000 fine and two days of community service for getting within 100 metres of the whales on July 19, 2018 in the Work Channel.

READ MORE: Fisheries Department says more staff on waters to protect whales in Canada

The DFO says fishery conservation officers in an unmarked boat saw Babcock get too close to the animal.

Whale found with 220-pound ball of plastic in its stomach
Whale found with 220-pound ball of plastic in its stomach

Under Canadian regulations, boaters are prohibited from approaching within 100 metres of most whales, and within 200 metres of cetaceans that are resting or accompanied by a calf.

READ MORE: Habitat protection widened for endangered killer whales off Vancouver Island

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The minimum distance for all orcas is 200 metres.

The North Pacific humpback whale population is listed as being of Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act.