Nova Scotia increases fine for buying out-of-season lobster to CAD 1 million

Published on
September 19, 2023
Nova Scotia lobster boats.

Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Steve Craig has announced the province is increasing the fines related to buying out-of-season lobster to CAD 1 million (USD 743,000, EUR 696,000).

The move to heavily increase the fine comes amid reports of rising amounts of unauthorized lobster fishing in southwestern Nova Scotia, The Canadian Press reported. The fine was previously CAD 100,000 (USD 74,000, EUR 69,000).

“I do not ignore complicated or challenging issues,” Craig told the media.

Craig said that the previous fine was not enough of a deterrent to stop the illegal sale of lobster, and that the increase gives courts the ability to issue fines of up to CAD 1 million, depending on circumstances. 

“I don’t think it will be a deterrent. I think it will be a consequence that has some substance to it,” he said. 

The move came as the province’s opposition Liberal Party called for more action from the Progressive Conservatives government on the issue. The party called on Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston to take further action amid “rising tensions.”

“The Houston government’s silence on this issue has been extremely troubling for our communities in Digby and Yarmouth counties. Not only is this a severe economic threat to our area, but also a significant safety issue,” Liberal Party and Opposition Leader Zach Churchill said in a release. “Minister Craig can no longer ignore this issue. We need a zero-tolerance policy on illegal fishing to protect the integrity of our lobster industry.”

The Liberal Party said illegal fishing activity has increased in southwestern Nova Scotia.

The rising tensions over alleged illegal fishing activity is not the first time Nova Scotia has seen conflict over lobster harvesting in the region. In 2020, fishermen and members of the Sipekne'katik First Nation clashed over the tribe’s fishing out of seasons set by the Canadian government. A Supreme Court decision in Canada, known as the Marshall Decision, confirmed the tribes of the Mi’kmaw have a treaty-protected right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. 

The tribe said the disputes began after the tribe and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) couldn’t reach an agreement on the definition of what a “moderate” livelihood would mean.

Three years later, unauthorized fishing is still a source of tension in Nova Scotia, and the DFO for the Maritimes area said that it is working to ensure that all fisheries activity is authorized by the department. The department said on social media it has been actively seizing unauthorized traps in the area. 

“Since 17 July, fishery officers have seized 655 traps in LFAs 33 and 34,” the DFO said. “On September 7 and 10, fishery officers made arrests for infractions of the Fisheries Act, in addition to the arrests and seizure of lobster in Moncton on August 30.”  

Photo courtesy of crwpitman/Shutterstock

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