Guilty pleas entered in Gulf Nova Scotia Bluefin tuna case

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Three fishermen issued significant fines, prohibition orders

MONCTON, N.B. – Three Nova Scotia fishermen pleaded guilty in Antigonish Provincial Court to a total of 27 charges related to illegal activity in the Bluefin tuna fishery.

The charges result from violations committed under both catch-and-release and commercial Bluefin tuna licenses issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

According to a news release from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, George W. Boyle and Dale C. Trenholm, both of Bayfield, Antigonish County, and Evan R. McDormand of Westport, Digby County, were charged after an undercover operation by DFO fishery officers in the Ballantyne’s Cove, NS, area in October 2014.

All three men pleaded guilty to several charges of violating catch-and-release licence conditions, including failing to release Bluefin tuna, possession of tuna, fishing with illegal gear including barbed hooks, hooking more tuna than permitted per fishing trip and infractions related to bait fishing.

Boyle, who is named as the holder of both licences, also pleaded guilty separately to charges of falsifying mandatory catch-and-release logbooks, which document fishing activity. As well, he pleaded guilty to violating conditions of his commercial Bluefin license by not tagging a tuna immediately after catching it and not recording the commercial catch in a logbook.

Boyle was fined a total of $30,000 by Provincial Court Judge Richard MacKinnon. His commercial Bluefin licence was suspended for two years during which time he is also prohibited from taking part in the fishery in any way. Additionally, his catch-and-release license was suspended for five years during which time he is prohibited from taking part in the fishery in any way.

Trenholm received fines totaling $20,000; McDormand’s fines total $15,000. They were also prohibited from taking part in any way in the catch-and-release fishery for five years and in the commercial fishery for two years.

For several years the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been investigating concerns of illegal activity in both the catch-and-release and commercial Bluefin tuna fisheries. As a result, in October 2014 an undercover operation was carried out which resulted in these convictions against three fishermen for serious violations. 

The success of this operation by fishery officers and the penalties imposed by the court are expected to serve as major deterrents to illegal activity in this fishery.

Organizations: DFO, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Geographic location: Bayfield, Antigonish County, Westport Digby County

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