Fish­er­man not guilty of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

PORT HAWKES­BURY — A Cape Bre­ton fish­er­man has been found not guilty of il­le­gal crab fish­ing, de­spite ad­mit­ting he set traps in­side a closed buf­fer zone.

Pro­vin­cial court Judge Theodore Tax’s writ­ten de­ci­sion was is­sued Wed­nes­day.

Over the course of the trial in Port Hood last month, Robert Boyd, who fishes out of Cheti­camp, ac­knowl­edged that in May 2009 he placed 39 traps in­side a buf­fer zone of one nau­ti­cal mile in crab fish­ing Area 12 while it was closed. The de­fence showed that the com­put­er­ized elec­tronic plot­ter of the fish­ing ves­sel, Sec­ond Wind 03, had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing prob­lems. Just be­fore they were to set traps, the plot­ter lost the marks and lines for the buf­fer zone. Mark Boyd, who had been placed in charge of the boat, then in­ad­ver­tently en­tered the wrong co-or­di­nates for the buf­fer zone, re­sult­ing in the crew set­ting traps in the closed area.

Robert Boyd dis­cov­ered the mis­take the next morn­ing and im­me­di­ately no­ti­fied the Depart­ment of Fisheries and Oceans. A fisheries of­fi­cer ad­vised him to haul up the traps and release the crab, and he com­plied.

Tax noted the ques­tion for the court to de­ter­mine was whether Robert Boys es­tab­lished “that he ex­er­cised all due dili­gence to pre- vent the com­mis­sion of the of­fence, or that he rea­son­ably and hon­estly be­lieved in the ex­is­tence of facts case that, if true, would ren­der his con­duct in­no­cent.”

Tax ruled that Boyd ex­er­cised due dili­gence in all of the cir­cum­stances of the case by tak­ing all rea­son­able and pru­dent ac­tions af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the in­ad­ver­tent set­ting of the traps in the closed zone. He said Boyd rec­ti­fied any at­tempted or tem­po­rary con­tra­ven­tion of fisheries reg­u­la­tions.

The act of fish­ing was never com­pleted, Tax added, as that would have in­cluded ac­tu­ally re­mov­ing the crab and land­ing the crab on his ves­sel to be sold.

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