Campbell River whale-watching guide fined $10,000 for getting too close to killer whales

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A Provincial Court judge has ordered the owner of a Campbell River whale-watching business to pay a $10,000 fine for getting too close to a pod of killer whales.

A Provincial Court judge has ordered the owner of a Campbell River whale-watching business to pay a $10,000 fine for getting too close to a pod of killer whales.

Nicklaus Templeman, owner and operator of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, was found guilty of violations of the Species at Risk Act and the federal Fisheries Act in Campbell River Provincial Court on September 13.

He was ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 for each violation, and the judge ordered that the fines be used for the conservation and protection of marine mammals in British Columbia waters.

The sentence stems from an incident on May 27, 2019, when Templeman was observed by two other whale-watching guides illegally approaching a killer whale within 35 meters near Willow Point.

Templeman acknowledged on VHF radio that he was aware of the presence of the transient whale pod. However, he continued to travel in their direction and positioned his ship to ensure that the whales should pass him nearby.

There were six commercial whale watching vessels in the area of ​​the incident. The captains of these vessels provided witness statements, as did several of the tourists who were on board. Witnesses also provided photos and video statements.

Templeman’s activity was reported up the Department of Fisheries and Oceans line by the other whale-watching guides and a fishery officer from Campbell River Detachment.

In a statement, DFO said it has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and prosecute offenders under fisheries and species at risk laws.

It is mandatory to respect the approach distances set up for marine mammals, specifies the federal agency.

Marine mammal regulations prohibit approaching the marine mammal or attempting to trap it or capture its group between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels.

DFO said Templeman violated this article by approaching from behind within 35 meters and circling the whales, and positioning his vessel close to shore, which caused the two groups of orcas to transit between his vessel and the other whale watching vessels that were offshore.

Bigg’s killer whales, often referred to as transients, are considered at risk due to their small population size.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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