Fisherman not guilty of illegal activity
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.