Yellowknife fisherman fined $5K for breaching federal fishery laws

Yellowknife fisherman fined $5K for breaching federal fishery laws

A Yellowknife commercial fisherman has been fined $5,000 for four breaches of the federal Fisheries Act.

Roger Buckley, 59, pleaded guilty last month to the breaches related to his fishing activities on Great Slave Lake in the summer of 2017.

Buckley was charged after fishery officers inspected Bullock's Bistro — Buckley's main customer — in June 2017. They discovered Buckley had not issued receipts to the restaurant, as required, for fish he had sold to them. When officers went to look at Buckley's logbook records, they found he had yet to file any.

Buckley submitted logbook pages in July and August, several of which were late. Legislation requires that logbooks be filled out daily and submitted to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans within 14 days after fish are landed, or at the request of an officer.

When they examined the logbooks, officers noted 25 instances where Buckley had left gill nets in the water for around 45 hours before removing the fish. Territorial regulations mandate that between May 16 and Oct. 31, nets must be removed after 30 consecutive hours.

Officers also discovered, based on Bullock's Bistro's records of purchasing fish from Buckley, that the fisherman had failed to record a number of catches.

Between May 15 and May 30, 156 pounds of fish were sold to the restaurant that were unaccounted for in Buckley's records.

Difficulty with recording requirements

This is not the first time Buckley has been charged for breaching the Fisheries Act.

Buckley has one previous related conviction. He was fined $1,000 for leaving his nets in the water for around 45 hours on three occasions and for not properly completing logbooks in 2013.

The defence said Buckley is embarrassed by the convictions. Buckley has been a commercial fisherman for most of his life and his lawyer said he finds the recording requirements intimidating.

Buckley estimates he has a Grade 3 level education when it comes to reading, writing and arithmetic. He attended residential school in Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask., in the the mid 1960s. He is a Métis survivor of the school who is still waiting for compensation.

Buckley is also the sole operator of his commercial fishing business. The defence said a number of times he left the nets in the water for too long due to weather conditions.

The defence said Buckley plans to work more closely with fishery officers in the future to make sure that he's in compliance with regulations.

During sentencing on the recent convictions, the Crown said records are essential for conservation efforts as officers use them to decide when a fishing season should be closed.

The Crown also said adhering to time limits is important in order to maintain the quality of fish.