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Natural Resources Law - Fishing - Offences and penalties

Thursday, January 19, 2017 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by McKinnell Fishing from its conviction for fishing for crab in a restricted area, a strict liability offence. McKinnell argued that it was not fishing for crab in the closed area, but merely taking possession of them there, having fished for them in an open area. Its alternate argument, that its vessel drifted to a closed area inadvertently, was accepted by the trial judge, who acquitted McKinnell. The summary conviction appeal judge rejected this due diligence defence and substituted a conviction for fishing in a restricted area. The facts underlying the case established that McKinnell laid crab traps on the ocean floor in the unrestricted area, but that its vessel drifted into the restricted area as the traps were retrieved. It argued that the retrieval of the crabs from the traps aboard the vessel did not constitute “fishing”, the act of which was complete when the crabs entered the trap in the unrestricted area.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The definition of “fishing” in section 2 of the Fisheries Act was given a liberal interpretation in accordance with the Act’s purpose of managing and conserving the commercial fishery. McKinnell’s acts of taking possession of trapped crab remained part of “fishing for crab” within the definition. The summary conviction appeal judge did not err in adopting the Gerring definition of fishing in interpreting s. 2 of the Fisheries Act.