Judge dismisses some charges in illegal fishing case
A provincial court judge in Corner Brook has granted directed verdicts for some of the charges in a case of illegal fishing.
Lindsay Crocker, Todd Young and Gauvin and Noel Company Limited went on trial before Judge Wayne Gorman on June 4, 5 and 8. Gorman issued his written decision in the case on Wednesday.
The two men and the company, of which Young is one of the owners, were charged in November 2016.
The evidence presented at trial is that on Nov. 30, 2016 the Nicole Daniel trapped a significant amount of herring in a purse seine it had set in Bonne Bay near Woody Point.
The Nicole Daniel transferred approximately 26,000 pounds of the herring onto another vessel, the M.V. Mary Shauna, that was being utilized by Crocker and another 14,000 pounds into a second vessel, a white skiff, also utilized by Crocker.
Crocker landed and sold the entire amount of herring loaded onto the two vessels. The Nicole Daniel subsequently landed and sold over 120,000 pounds of herring.
In his logbook, Crocker indicated that he had “kept” 40,000 pounds of herring by using a “tuck seine.” In his logbook, Young indicated that he had “kept” 120,000 pounds of herring.
Crocker was charged with operating a vessel while unnamed in a fishing licence, failure to comply with the condition of a licence, making a false statement to a fisheries official and unlawfully fishing from a vessel without a valid vessel registration card.
Young and the company were each charged with operating a vessel while unnamed in a fishing licence, unlawfully fishing from a vessel without a valid vessel registration card and producing false records.
According to Gorman’s written decision, the three accused made motions for directed verdicts at the end of the Crown’s case.
They argued that when the herring was transferred from the purse seine to the Mary Shauna and the white skiff, the Nicole Daniel was no longer engaged in fishing.
And they argued the Crown failed to present any evidence that a vessel was used “in fishing”, as required by sections 13(1)(a) and (c) of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985. They also argued that there was no evidence that the log books prepared by Young and Crocker were “false or misleading,” as required by sections 63(1) and 63(3) of the Fisheries Act.
he Crown said the motions for directed verdicts should be denied and argued the three accused were engaged in a coordinated scheme designed to allow Crocker to unlawfully fish for herring.
The Crown argued the scheme consisted of the three accused participating in Crocker having fished for herring by obtaining the herring from a purse seine set by Young and Gauvin & Noel pursuant to the company’s licence.
Gorman granted the directed verdicts in relation to the charges laid against the three pursuant to sections 63(1), making a false statement to a fisheries official, and 61(3), producing false record, of the Fisheries Act. He said there was no evidence that any of the accused prepared or made a false or misleading document or statement.
As a result, those charges were dismissed.
He denied the motions for directed verdicts on the remaining charges, saying there was some evidence they engaged in fishing and used a vessel without a
registration card (the white skiff); a vessel not listed in the company’s licence (the Mary Shauna) and a person (Crocker) not listed in the company’s licence.
The matter will be called again in on June 19.