A video of a Sooke resident explaining crab fishing rules to individuals who were reportedly catching illegal crabs has gone viral.
Dylan Heal was at the Rotary Pier in Sooke on the weekend with his family when he noticed two groups of people who were not measuring their crabs.
Heal explained to the first group that they need a measuring tool — a crab caliper — to ensure they are not taking crabs that are too small out of the water. He said they thanked him for the information, tossed their crabs back in and left.
About 10 minutes later, Heal approached the second group which was when his sister started filming the encounter.
In the video — which is on Facebook with 64,000 views — Heal is seen asking a woman and another male if they have a measuring tool for the crabs. He shows them how to measure the crabs and tells them the ones they are keeping are too small.
The woman gets confrontational in the video, demanding to see Heal’s license after he asks to see her fishing license. In total, Heal and the woman toss 12 crabs back into the water.
“My intention was to try and educate people and explain to them you can’t be down here unless you know what you’re doing,” Heal said.
Mandy Ludlow, a fishery officer and detachment supervisor with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the main tool for managing crab stocks in B.C. is through size limits. Dungeness crabs must be 165 mm or larger to be kept.
“That’s because the males at that size have been sexually producing for up to one year or longer,” Ludlow said.
Female crabs cannot be retained at all because that would impact spawning and population.
Additionally, individuals are allowed to keep four crabs each. That meant the people in video were four crabs over their limit.
Heal said he goes to dock every few weekends and has been going there since he was young. He began to educate people about regulations when he was a child and still does so often.
“Unfortunately it happens on a daily basis and it’s not patrolled enough,” Heal said. “I’m not trying to take the law into my own hands but I’m trying to provide people with the means to show me that they’re doing the right thing.”
Ludlow said the first time someone is found in possession with an undersized crab, they are fined $150. Each additional crab they are retaining at the time is a charge of $50 up to a fine of $1,000. After that, the individual must appear in court.
Those that retain female crabs must appear in court because it is a condition of their fishing license.
“It’s important to keep these regulations so we have crab for the future,” Ludlow said. “It’s so we have a successful species that is available for our children and grandchildren.”
Heal said he is very happy his sister shot the video and that it is receiving so much traction because things like this happen all the time.
“People need to know what’s going on in their waters,” Heal said.
He thinks if a person is able to buy traps and bait but not have a measuring tool or license, they should not be at the docks.
“People who are going to come and crab in local waters like that need to know the regulations and rules before they step foot on the dock,” Heal said.