Advertisement

Nova Scotia halibut boat fined $5,000 for fishing inside Gully Marine Protected Area

Surveillance footage from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans shows Yarmouth-based fishing vessel Ryan and Girls inside the Gully Marine Protected Area near Sable Island February 2021.  (DFO - image credit)
Surveillance footage from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans shows Yarmouth-based fishing vessel Ryan and Girls inside the Gully Marine Protected Area near Sable Island February 2021. (DFO - image credit)

A Nova Scotia fishing captain has pleaded guilty to fishing inside the Gully Marine Protected Area near Sable Island.

It's the first conviction in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Maritimes region for unauthorised fishing inside marine protected area.

Captain Phillip Chetwynd was fined $5,000 in Port Hawkesbury provincial court this week for non-compliance with licence conditions under the Fisheries Act.

The 15-metre Ryan and Girls was fishing for halibut near the protected area in February 2021 when it was spotted about 300 metres inside Zone 1 — a closed area that encompasses a deep canyon environment including important habitat for cold-water corals, dolphins and whales.

Images taken by a DFO surveillance plane show the captain at the rail hauling the tail end of the long line with crewmen dressing the catch on board.

Owner is a major seafood player

The registered owner of the vessel is Ocean Trapper Fisheries Ltd.  Yarmouth seafood businessman Steve Corkum is the company's president and lone director.

Chetwynd's lawyer Jocelin d'Entremont says there's no evidence that Chetwynd caught the fish within the marine protected area.

"The vessel was only .17 nautical miles within the MPA when the overflight occurred. And so the guilty plea is premised on him being within that area with the vessel, but not necessarily the where the fish was caught," d'Entremont told CBC News Wednesday.

During the March 20 sentencing, d'Entremont told the court there was no evidence of hooks or fish being taken from the water.

"He was just retrieving the end of his gear. He understands that he was not permitted to be there at all," d'Etnremont told Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie.

The fine was a joint recommendation by Crown and defence lawyers.

Halfpenny MacQuarrie said the fine was reasonable for a first offence.

"Mr. d'Entremont is right. I can't put any thought into the fish that were in your boat. That has nothing to do with the offence, simply that you were inside a zone where you know you were not supposed to be and this is the repercussion," the judge said.

Chetwynd has until the end of Oct. 30 to pay.

The Gully is the largest underwater canyon in the western North Atlantic and in 2004 became the first marine protected area in eastern Canada.

MORE TOP STORIES