Commercial fisherman Scott Steer has been convicted multiple times for fishing illegally during the last decade and, in the wake of another bust, the province wants to seize assets and cash it says are the proceeds of illegal activity.
Since 2008, there have been 15 different Fisheries and Oceans Canada files on Steer. He has faced serious judicial penalties including jail time, a 22-year ban from fishing in Canadian or U.S. waters and significant fines.
In a statement Friday, the government agency said Steers has again been found guilty of serious offences against the Fisheries Act. He was convicted on five counts in Vancouver Provincial Court on May 14, 2021.
The charges stem from an arrest on March 2, 2020 when fisheries officers allegedly caught Steer and three crew members fishing illegally for crab near North Vancouver.
After ignoring commands to stop, the vessel was boarded at high speed. The fishing vessel and a truck and trailer were seized, and 300 live crab found on board were released back into the water, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in its statement.
Eight more charges were laid in Nanaimo on May 31 against Steer and a numbered company owned by a family member for illegally harvesting sea cucumbers between July 2019 and March 2020.
He was charged again with three more counts in provincial court on July 6. He is currently under house arrest awaiting sentencing in October.
Now, the province is going after his assets.
In a petition filed June 28 in B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office is applying to seize Steer's Gabriola Island home as well as more than $1.3 million in cash.
Also named in the suit are Steer's mother Diane Gail Butz, his common-law partner or spouse Melissa Dawn Larocque who also uses the last name Steer, and multiple seafood companies connected to the couple.
According to the province, Steer, Larocque and the defendant companies have been engaged in the illegal catching and selling of fish, as well as immigration and tax violations.
Claim documents submitted to the court also say Steer applied fraudulently for a grant from the Native Fishing Association under the name Terry Seymour as recently as 2020 and received up to $80,000.
In its statement, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said harvesters who choose to ignore the rules give themselves an unfair advantage, undermine the effective management of the fishery, and threaten the sustainability of the resource.