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Five people, three companies convicted of 18 violations in N.S. halibut fishery

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans seized 17 undersized halibut in relation to charges for illegal possession and sale of harvested halibut in Sambro, N.S., in this photo from Dec. 14, 2021. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans seized 17 undersized halibut in relation to charges for illegal possession and sale of harvested halibut in Sambro, N.S., in this photo from Dec. 14, 2021.
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A major investigation into the halibut fishery in the Sambro area of Nova Scotia has led to multiple fines and licence suspensions.

Five people and three companies were convicted of 18 violations of the Fisheries Act and Regulations. The Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO) conducted the investigation, according to a Tuesday news release.

DFO originally laid 66 charges against eight individuals and five companies in 2021.

“Harvesters who break the law give themselves an unfair advantage, undermine the effective management of the fishery, and threaten the sustainability of our shared fishery resources,” says DFO in the release.

The charges include:

  • failing to have catch verified by a dockside observer
  • providing inaccurate catch information in order to land more halibut than was allowed in conditions of licence

The last sentence was handed out on Tuesday.

The individuals and companies were collectively fined more than $260,000, DFO says.

An individual’s licence was suspended for 60 days, during which they cannot fish or renew their licence.

A different individual’s licence was suspended for 60 days, during which:

  • they are prohibited from boarding a commercial fishing vessel in Canadian or American waters
  • they cannot acquire or possess any interest in a fishing vessel or licence
  • they cannot possess commercial fishing gear of any kind

The release says suspensions aim to prevent people and companies from generating income by fishing, and timeframes usually correspond with the most lucrative time to fish.

“Atlantic Halibut has become the most valuable species for groundfish licence holders in Nova Scotia over the past several years and accounted for 59 per cent of the value of the groundfish fishery in DFO's Maritimes Region in 2022,” says DFO in the release.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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