Mounties have arrested a man accused of firing shots while Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers investigated reports of illegal shellfish harvesting in Chemainus.

Five DFO officers were in the process of arresting three people suspected of illegally harvesting clams at the end of Howe Road, near the Chemainus River, on Friday when the shots were fired.

"For all of them it would be close to a once-in-a-career type incident. We receive a lot of training for these situations," said Tom Hlavac, the DFO's area chief of conservation and protection for B.C.'s South Coast.

Hlavac said that he spoke with the officers, who told him their training kicked in when dealing with the illegal harvesters, who were digging up clams in a harvesting area closed due to contamination.

Two other people suspected of taking part in the illegal harvest had already fled into a nearby wooded area, according to North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

Mounties were called to the area and got DFO officers to safety while taking the three suspects into custody.

The Island District Emergency Response team was called in and through a subsequent investigation identified the two outstanding suspects.

Robert Wayne Guerin, 49, was taken into custody without incident at his home on Squaw Hay One First Nation near Chemainus and charged with careless use of a firearm and unauthorized possession of a weapon.

He’s been released from custody under specific conditions and will appear in Duncan Provincial Court on April 18.

The second outstanding suspect turned himself in to Mounties and has since been released, according to Mounties. It’s unknown if he will face charges.

The three other suspects arrested were taken into custody by the DFO and have since been released. All five of the suspects could face charges under the Fisheries Act.

No one was injured in any of the incidents.

Anyone who spots illegal shellfish harvesting is asked to report it to the DFO's enforcement line at 1-800-465-4336.