A provincial court judge in Nova Scotia has dismissed charges against three fishermen from the Sipekne'katik band accused of illegally fishing for lobster.
Judge Tim Landry ruled the Crown did not prove its case.
James Wallace Nevin, Leon Knockwood and Logan Pierro-Howe were charged after landing 602 kilograms of lobster at a Weymouth wharf in November 2018.
The Crown argued the catch exceeded what was allowed under the 40 kilogram daily limit contained in the food, social and ceremonial licence held by two of the men.
But in a Digby courtroom on Monday, the judge dismissed the charges.
Question over licenses
Landry said the Crown had failed to enter evidence proving the fishermen were not entitled to fish for lobster under some other licence.
The Crown should have provided evidence it had checked a database to confirm "the individuals charged have got no other licenses issued by the Department of Fisheries. And that I don't know," he said.
"In order for me to know that they possess fish that were caught contrary to the Fisheries Act, I have to know that they don't have the authority to fish in any other fashion," Landry said.
The omission, he said, was fatal to the Crown's case.
The decision did not touch on the defence claim that the arrests interfere with the fishermen's court recognizing the right to fish for a moderate livelihood.
One of the acquitted fishermen, James Nevin, told the Indigenous news site, Ku'ku'kwes, he was "ecstatic" over the ruling.
"It's going to open a lot of doors for all of us, you know, our Mi'kmaw fishermen in the whole province," Nevin told Ku'ku'kwes following the decision.
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