Nfld. & Labrador

OCI speaks out about illegal fishing charge

Ocean Choice International is accused of fishing in a conservation area during a closed time — an allegation that the company says it takes "very seriously."

Company says DFO delayed informing the captain he was in newly protected area

Seafood giant Ocean Choice International says court documents from both sides verify that the captain wasn't aware of the newly designated conservation area off the coast of Newfoundland.

Ocean Choice International is accused of fishing in a conservation area during a closed time — an allegation that the company says it takes "very seriously."

According to court documents, OCI and a numbered company linked to OCI were both charged with a breach of the Fisheries Act in June. 

The charge stems from an incident that allegedly took place between Feb. 4-10, 2018. 

OCI is accused of fishing for Greenland halibut in an area off the coast of the island, which DFO calls the "Northeast Newfoundland Slope Conservation Area," during a closed time.

Captain was 'unaware'

The company released a statement on Sunday.

OCI says court documents from both sides verify that the captain wasn't aware of the newly designated conservation area.

"The vessel was fishing in the area for approximately six hours when it was alerted of the issue. The vessel left the area immediately," it said.

The statement says OCI and the captain have been "forthright, polite, co-operative and respectful" with authorities from DFO throughout the investigation.

"The company is troubled by evidence that DFO: 1) Didn't follow proper notification protocols for newly protected areas; and 2) Intentionally delayed informing the captain that the vessel had entered a newly protected area."

The matter is due back in a St. John's provincial courtroom Oct. 10.

OCI says it will provide further comment once the matter is no longer before the court.

OCI is charged with illegally fishing in a protected area off Newfoundland's northeast coast. (DFO)

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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