Up to $500,000 fine and potential jail time for feeding seals

Changes to the Marine Mammal Regulations make it illegal to feed seals

Participating in one of Oak Bay’s well-loved traditions can now land you a hefty fine and potential jail time. Changes to Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations this week make it illegal to feed the seals down at Oak Bay Marina – or anywhere else.

File video filmed prior to amendments to Marine Mammal Regulations.

“The health of our marine environment is of paramount importance to the Oak Bay Marine Group and while feeding marine mammals has long been a pastime of locals and tourists from around the world, the Oak Bay Marina – where so many visitors and residents come to see the seals – is no longer allowing guests to feed them,” said Brook Castelsky, chief operating officer for Oak Bay Marine Group.

While there were previously recommendations in place to protect marine mammals by prohibited the disturbance of them, a lack of clear definition made enforcement difficult. The new changes, published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, more clearly define “disturb” and are now enforceable under the Fisheries Act. Those who break the rules could face penalties of $100,000 to $500,000. Repeat offences could result in jail time, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Oak Bay Marine Group is in full support of the recent amendments that now prohibit the feeding of marine mammals.

“While some Oak Bay Marina guests may be disappointed, this change in the regulations is positive and we encourage everyone to take the time to understand why this can no longer continue,” said Castelsky.

Seals aren’t the only ones getting added protection under the new regulations.

The new rules will require boaters to maintain a 100-metre buffer zone for most whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and a 200-metre buffer zone for orcas.

The new amendments define “disturb” as approaching a marine mammal to, or to attempt to, feed it; swim with it or interact with it; move it or entice or cause it to move from the immediate vicinity in which it is found; separate it from members of its group or go between it and a calf; trap it or its group between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels; or tag or mark it.

RELATED: Whale watch body wants closer access to other orcas as feds set 200-metre limit

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

‘More animals could have a chance:’ Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of a home

Animal rescue currently has 163 animals in foster and volunteer homes

Free-B Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

Head to Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to see some family favourites on the big screen

Central Saanich accused of not following Climate Emergency declaration with urgent action

Motion to research climate response options and costs rejected then rescheduled in tense meeting

Join North Saanich invasives removal and experience three key benefits

Friends of North Saanich Parks says July 27 clear-up will be rewarding as well as green

Esquimalt gives six-storey rental complex the green light

A new apartment building is set to go up on Admirals Road

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read