Commercial fisherman fined just less than $50,000 for illegal catches near Prince Rupert
A four-time convicted commercial fishing offender is on the hook for $49,704.68 in fines and banned from fishing for eight months, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced on March 14.
Adrian Slavko Kern pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in Prince Rupert Provincial Court on Oct. 31, 2022, the DFO stated in a press release.
In his most recent penalty, Kern was fined $25,000 for illegally setting up fishing gear in Chatham Sound, near Prince Rupert, between Sept. 14 and 18, 2018 while the fishery was closed. He had been commercially fishing for halibut and sablefish, DFO stated.
DFO has information about Kern’s fishing trip in the closed area because he had recorded all of the required data in a logbook. He reported catching and keeping a total of 154 halibut and 467 sablefish during the trip, according to the provincial court judgement titled R. v. Kern 2022 BCPC 273.
He was charged an additional $24,704.68 for illegally selling the fish.
Kern sold about 4,004 pounds of halibut that he caught in the closed fishery, states the written order by the court. In 2018, commercial halibut caught by longline were being sold for $6.17 per pound on average. Based on these numbers, Judge Patterson estimated that Kern made about $24,704.68 off of the sale, which corresponds to the fine he now owes.
Since there was no information provided to the judge about how much sablefish Kern sold, he did not include any additional financial penalties for selling the sablefish.
In the written order by the court based on joint submissions, the judge states that Kern admitted he was surprised he was not punished more for the sablefish he took as well.
The court banned Kern from obtaining a new commercial fishing licence or fishing under any commercial licence for eight months, despite the prosecutor seeking a one-year ban.
The judge noted the financial penalty Kern owed was significant and the only reason he gave him an eight-month sentence, rather than the year, was to give him the opportunity to return to fishing so he could support his family. The written order states that at the time Kern was convicted, he was couch-surfing after being injured and not working.
“Given his current financial situation, one has to wonder how or if he will be able to pay it,” the judgment states.
While determining whether or not a fishing prohibition should be inflicted, the judge took into consideration the fact that he had three previous convictions related to fishing.
“Mr. Kern has three convictions, which are all relevant, and even though he has maintained the last four years without any issues, for general deterrence’s sake, anything but a prohibition would not be proper and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute,” the judgement states.
Kern was fined $2,000 in 2003, $12,500 in 2007 and $15,000 in 2020, totalling $29,500 in previous fishing-related fines. At least two of these cases were for fishing in a closed area, one just months before the current offence.
According to the written order, the judge did believe that Kern did not intend to break the law and felt horrible about it but stated that “nevertheless, as an experienced fisher, he is highly culpable.”
Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View