The owners of two of Yellowknife's most iconic businesses were fined $1,000 each this morning for buying fish illegally.
Sam Bullock of Bullock's Bistro and Bud Weaver of Weaver & Devore Trading each bought walleye from a Tlicho man.
They were charged with violating the Fisheries Act and convicted Thursday by N.W.T. Territorial Court.
Bullock said the man who sold them the fish had a business licence issued by the Behchoko community government and caught the fish on Tlicho lands.
A Gwich'in citizen himself, Bullock said a licence issued by the Tlicho Government for commercial fishing in Tlicho territory should carry some weight with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"A regulation is a regulation and these regulations have been thought out and they're in place to protect fish stocks," Bullock said.
"But couldn't they just take this process one step further and issue commercial licences from local fishers so they can make a living from the fish?"
Bullock said authorizations issued by Tlicho governments should be passed on and approved by DFO.
He said the case shows that the federal government still has full control over waters and fisheries within Tlicho lands.
For his part, Weaver said he thought the man's business licence authorized him to sell fish commercially.
Weaver said he's not happy about having to pay a fine, but he's glad the case is over.
The man who sold the fish, Narcisse Chocolate, is scheduled to be sentenced June 7th in Behchoko.
The fines against Weaver and Bullock come three years after the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld a decision affirming that five First Nations on Vancouver Island have the right to fish on their traditional lands and sell what they catch.
The B.C. Court of Appeal said that selling fish on traditional lands is an aboriginal right, as long as it's not done on a large industrial scale.
As part of that decision, the judge ordered DFO to negotiate a plan for a commercial fishery with the five First Nations.
The federal government attempted to appeal the decision, but in 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada rejected that appeal.