Manitoba fish co-op fined for illegally selling to U.S.
Commercial fishermen want changes to how they can market fish
A Manitoba commercial fishery co-operative has been fined $2,000 after it pleaded guilty to illegally selling fish to the United States.
WMM Fisheries Co-operative Ltd. pleaded guilty on Monday afternoon to exporting without a licence, violating the federal Freshwater Fish Marketing Act.
The co-operative represents about 300 fishermen in Manitoba's Interlake region who were catching fish and selling them to a processor in the U.S.
In Manitoba, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corp. is the only body that can legally export fish.
The co-operative was fined $2,000 while its president, Amanda Stevenson, was also fined $2,000.
Prior to Monday's court appearance, Stevenson and commercial fishermen from across the province held a protest at the steps of the Manitoba legislative building, demanding their freedom to market fish.
They want to be able to sell rough fish, like mullet and carp, directly to their buyers in the U.S.
"Open the market to get every single fisherman a free choice to sell his fish to Freshwater or to sell his fish wherever he wants to," Stevenson told the crowd.
Stevenson called Manitoba's rules unfair, given fishermen in Ontario and British Columbia can sell their product to whomever they want.
Some 40 fishermen, from Fairford, Eriksdale, St. Laurent, St. Martin, Lundar, Ashern, Eddystone, Waterhen, Amaranth, Winnipegosis, Gimli and Riverton took part in the protest.