Hundreds of undersized lobsters seized from First Nations vessel in Cape Breton: DFO

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A lobster caught off P.E.I. is measured in this file photo from May 2021. DFO officers in Cape Breton returned hundreds of undersized lobsters to the water Tuesday night after boarding a First Nations vessel. (Jada Yeo - image credit)
A lobster caught off P.E.I. is measured in this file photo from May 2021. DFO officers in Cape Breton returned hundreds of undersized lobsters to the water Tuesday night after boarding a First Nations vessel. (Jada Yeo - image credit)

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans returned 466 undersized lobsters to the water this week that were seized from a First Nations fishing boat in Cape Breton.

DFO said enforcement officers inspected a vessel Tuesday night in St. Peters canal operating under a communal food, social and ceremonial licence.

The lobsters were released that night.

Noel d'Entremont, acting director of conservation and protection in the Maritimes region, said no charges have been laid, but an investigation is continuing.

A portion of the incident was captured on video and posted to social media showing lobsters being tossed back in the water by DFO officers.

Band not identified

The FSC licence being fished was for a Cape Breton band, which DFO declined to identify.

"The officers have been in contact with the community in question," d'Entremont said.

The lobster fishing season is open in the area for commercial licence holders and a Potlotek moderate livelihood fishery. Food, social and ceremonial fisheries do not have seasons.

"It was routine. Our officers were on patrol and they were boarding any vessels that they encountered, whether it be commercial, food, social and ceremonial, or the new Potlotek moderate livelihood vessels. And it just happened to be this one was a food, social and ceremonial vessel," d'Entremont told CBC News.

The FSC licences are approved by DFO but issued by individual bands to members who are permitted a small number of traps.

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