Richmond crab processing factory fined more than $110K for obstructing inspection, other violations

·2 min read
A DFO officer found several undersized crabs discarded in the factory. (Jerry Kirkhart/Flickr - image credit)
A DFO officer found several undersized crabs discarded in the factory. (Jerry Kirkhart/Flickr - image credit)

A seafood processing company in Richmond and a commercial fisherman have together been fined more than $110,000 for violating Canada's Fisheries Act.

On Sept. 8, 2018, a Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officer inspected Tenshi Seafood Limited — a large crab processing, distribution and exporting plant.

When the officer arrived, he witnessed a man run from the factory, hop in his vehicle and speed away with "what looked like a crab crate in the back," according to a statement from the DFO.

Then, while inside the building, the DFO says the officer found several undersized crabs discarded in the processing plant.

The statement goes on to say the co-owner of Tenshi Seafood Limited, Desi Liu, and some of his staff then obstructed the officer from completing the inspection, saying Liu and his staff wouldn't answer questions or provide the necessary paperwork for the discarded crabs.

Liu also tried to destroy evidence by eating a receipt, it said.

"That's a serious offence," said Jason Guno, Fisheries and Oceans detachment commander for Fraser coastal.

"The fisheries industry is regulated and all entities have to abide by the conditions and one of them is to assist with the regulatory nature of the industry."

On March 4, 2021, Tenshi Seafood Limited and Liu were found guilty of violating the Fisheries Act in a Richmond Provincial Court.

The company was fined $75,000 and Liu was ordered to pay $25,000.

Fisherman also fined

Thuong Nguyen, the master of the Dream Chaser commercial vessel and one of Tenshi's suppliers, was also fined $10,000. His license prohibits the fishing of undersized dungeness crabs.

"It means that the crabs don't get to mature to the appropriate size. If they haven't had a chance to propagate and reproduce, you're affecting the natural order of things in terms of renewable resources," said Guno.

He confirmed that Nguyen was the man the officer first saw fleeing from the plant.

"He was later identified and found guilty of obstruction," Guno said.

The DFO says, under the Fisheries Act, it is illegal to obstruct or hinder a fishery officer, fishery guardian or an inspector who is carrying out duties or functions.

"I think it's a good message to everyone involved in the seafood industry [that] it's a serious offence to not cooperate and assist fisheries officers when they're doing an investigation," said Guno.

Tenshi Seafood Limited must also publish a letter addressed to its customers explaining the offences and that it was found guilty.