A Newfoundland fisherman faces charges after allegedly cutting the tails off Greenland sharks caught in fishing gear in Cumberland Sound.

In 2010, Clarence Cabot was working in Cumberland Sound for Pangnirtung Fisheries Limited, according to people familiar with the fishery.

Now he and the owners of the Funk Island Banker face two charges laid in August of this year, two years after the offences allegedly occurred.

One charge accuses Cabot of cutting the tails off Greenland sharks that were tangled in the fishing gear. The other is for alleged violations of the conditions of his licence.

The accidental catch of Greenland shark and Arctic skate occurs regularly in Nunavut's turbot industry.

Greenland sharks eat the turbot caught on long lines and can become hooked and tangled in the gear. The largest ones can weigh up to 1,200 kilograms.

A 2003 estimate from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says bycatch of Greenland shark off the east coast of Baffin Island totalled 93 tonnes that year.

Janelle Kennedy with Nunavut's Department of Environment said a research project has been launched, partly aimed at reducing the number of sharks and skate caught accidentally.

"Both of those species are very common to catch on long lines," she said. "You may set 200 hooks and you may get one or two Greenland shark; sometimes you don't get any."

The project will test hooks and lines meant to decrease the bycatch, including a type of turbot pot that sharks can't get into.

Fishing boats are supposed to return sharks and skate and other by-catch species to the ocean, but Kennedy said a certain number of animals die in the process. She said right now the bycatch is not a significant threat to shark and skate.

"To our knowledge at this point it's not having a negative impact on those two species."

Cabot is due in court in Iqaluit for a first appearance on Dec. 3.