$50,000 fine and two-year licence suspension handed down in case of largest seizure of illegal lobsters in the Atlantic provinces

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$50,000 fine and two-year licence suspension handed down in case of largest seizure of illegal lobsters in the Atlantic provinces

By Tina Comeau

SOU'WESTER

A Yarmouth County fishing captain has been fined $50,000 and suspended from lobster fishing for two years in what the court was told Friday was the largest seizure of illegal undersized lobsters ever in the Atlantic provinces.

Daniel Edward Doucette of Wedgeport was sentenced in provincial court in Yarmouth on Aug. 14 after pleading guilty months ago to possession of undersized lobsters.

With just five days left in the commercial lobster season in May 2008, DFO fishery officers ¬– following up on tips of illegal activity – seized the fishing vessel Kayla and Dylan at the Wedgeport Tuna Wharf. On the lobster boat were crates containing 5,330 illegal-sized lobsters that had been brought back to shore.

During Doucette’s sentencing hearing, the court was told that removing that many lobsters from the ocean equated to the removal of five to six million lobster eggs from the future resource. In this case the lobsters were returned to the water but the Crown noted that was only because the accused had been caught.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Robert Prince said it was imperative that an important message be sent out that the lobster resource must be protected. Illegal activities of this type, the judge said, will carry a very large price tag indeed. “The court appreciates that the offence has led to tragic consequences for the defendant and his family. It is regrettable that he chose to carry out this activity. If the motivation was purely economic, than in my view it’s even more tragic for the defendant and his family,” said Judge Prince.

But the judge said removing 5,330 lobsters from the lobster stock is “very serious indeed.” “The importance of the resource to our communities cannot be underestimated. It is a finite and sometimes fragile resource that requires conservation and protection if it is to survive and continue to sustain so many in our regions,” he said. “Persons have to know that there are serious consequences when offences of this magnitude are committed.”

Geographic location: Yarmouth County

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