P.E.I. herring fisherman fined after selling fish for bait

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 14, 2015

Canadian Press photo

GEORGETOWN - A $30 pan of herring turned into a $500 fine for a P.E.I. fisherman charged in a precedent setting case this fall.

Steven Cameron Irving was on Fishermen’s Bank, which is off Beach Point, P.E.I., on Oct. 5 when he sold a pan of herring for bait to another boat captain fishing tuna.

The transfer was made as the boats came alongside each other.

However, under the law, no herring catch can be unloaded from a fishing vessel unless it’s examined at the wharf by a dockside monitor to regulate the seasonal quota.

The Montague based fisherman pleaded guilty, but told the judge he was doing it as a favour and suggested his actions were actually more environmentally sustainable in the long run.

“That (tuna) fisherman could have just sank a net and pulled up thousands of pounds of fish to get his bait,” said Irving. “He could have taken what he needed (for bait) and the rest (of the fish) would be thrown back dead.”

Even the crown prosecutor said the case was unique and there was no precedent regarding sentencing.

Irving said he was “technically” guilty for the action, but suggested the legality of the matter is flawed.

"The other fisherman only needed 150 pounds of herring and I wasn’t trying to hide the fact,’’ he told the judge. “I saw the fisheries officers, but didn’t think they would charge me for something like this.”