Crews from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have spent the past week collecting illegal traps and fishing gear near White Rock, B.C.
According to officials, around 60 illegal traps have been seized each day over the course of the five-day operation in Boundary Bay.
Crews collect the traps using a line and grapple hook, which is thrown over the side of a patrol boat, then dragged across the ocean floor.
They’re looking for both traps that were intentionally placed in the ocean illegally as well as traps that have been abandoned but are still active, which is referred to as “ghost gear.”
“It’s a problem. It impacts resources greatly. We have no idea how much (illegal and ghost gear) is out there,” said Art Demsky, a DFO detachment commander.
“Gear gets lost and abandoned, and continues to fish everywhere around the coast and it’s harmful. Harmful to the environment and those that rely on the industry.”
Demsky said their operation is limited by the number of officers they have. They rely heavily on public tips to catch and remove illegal fishing and trapping.
Anyone that sees illegal activity is asked to contact the DFO’s observe, record, and report line at 1-800-465-4336.
Deploying an illegal trap can result in a fine of up to $500,000 under Canada’s Fisheries Act.