DFO lays charges stemming from Halifax airport lobster seizure, Belliveaus Cove raid
Company accused of selling fish not authorized for sale despite being caught legally
The operator of a lobster pound in southwest Nova Scotia has been charged by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, accused of selling lobster caught under an Aboriginal communal fishing licence.
The company, 9902848 Canada Inc.-Guang Da International, and its owner are accused of allegedly selling fish that were caught and retained under the authority of a licence where sale was not authorized.
The charges follow raids by fisheries officers last October on the lobster pound in Belliveaus Cove and a seizure of seafood from Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
"The licence that the fish is believed to be caught under is issued under the Aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations and the licence that was used doesn't allow for sale," said Derrick Parsons, DFO's chief of enforcement operations for conservation and protection in the Maritimes.
DFO said the investigation into the company and its owner began in October 2017 following the inspection of lobster at the airport.
That inspection, according to DFO, led to the execution of a series of search warrants at a fishing processing plant in Belliveaus Cove.
The first court appearance for plea is set for Sept. 11, 2018 at Digby provincial court.
CBC News attempted to contact Guang Da International's office in Belliveaus Cove by phone and email Wednesday evening. There was no immediate response.
Tensions have been high in southwest Nova Scotia over the First Nations food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery since last year. Non-Indigenous fishermen accused DFO of being lax on enforcing rules governing Indigenous fishing last year and held a protest in front of a DFO office.
Last year, DFO said there were "clear indications" there were "activities related to the illegal sale" of food, social and ceremonial lobster.
Right to make a living
Non-Indigenous lobster fishermen complained Indigenous fishermen were using the fishery to conceal a black market in lobsters.
Dave MacDonald, an Indigenous fisherman from Sipekne'katik First Nation near Shubenacadie, N.S., said while he doesn't sell his catches to Guang Da International, he thinks the charges against the company undermine an Indigenous fisherman's right to make a modest living.
"They're trying to do every little situation to take our band and stop us from making a moderate living, that's what it comes down to or else they wouldn't be going around sending a letter out to all these commercial buyers saying don't buy Aboriginal fish," MacDonald said.
DFO acknowledges the Mi'kmaq have a right to a moderate living, but only in a fishery that follows regulations.
We have charged a company & its owner for violations under Section 35 (2) of the Fishery (General) Regulations following an inspection last fall at Halifax Airport & search warrants at fish processing plant in Belliveau’s Cove <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NS</a> <a href="https://t.co/EclN1LfTQI">pic.twitter.com/EclN1LfTQI</a>—@DFO_MAR
The first court appearance is scheduled for September 11 at Digby Provincial Court. We take the regulations related to harvesting, buying, selling & possession of fish seriously. <a href="https://t.co/uZNHqpznDD">pic.twitter.com/uZNHqpznDD</a>—@DFO_MAR