A B.C. man filmed throwing a so-called “bear banger” into a raft of sea lions near Hornby Island last spring is facing charges under the Fisheries Act and Explosives Act.
The video, which came to light last March, shows Allen Marsden lighting the fuse on one of the explosive noise-makers and throwing it into the water where a large number of the animals had congregated.
Court records show Marsden facing three charges, related to the disturbance of marine mammals and the use of explosives.
The records also indicate an intent to plead guilty.
The video was initially posted to the Facebook group of the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society, a group of First Nations and commercial fishers advocating for a West Coast seal hunt, and drew support from other fishers and condemnation from people who describe the action as cruel.
Many fishers on B.C.’s south coast argue that the sea lion population has exploded in recent years and is devastating the fishery.
In a phone interview at the time the video emerged, Marsden told Global News the video was shot while he and his crew were taking samples of herring roe for the fishing industry.
Marsden said there were as many as 500 sea lions in the area, and that the bear banger was not actually effective on the animals, who he described as a danger to his crew.
However the Vancouver Aquarium says the device could cause injury to the sea lions’ face, eyes or jaw along with their hearing.
The aquarium says the area’s sea lion population has not exploded, but rather, has returned to historical levels after decades of aggressive hunting.