DFO makes presence felt

Sherry Martell
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Six charges laid for Fisheries Act violations during lobster season

ANTIGONISH Enforcement officers issued about 40 warnings and laid six charges for Fisheries Act violations during the two-month spring lobster fishing season.

ANTIGONISH Enforcement officers issued about 40 warnings and laid six charges for Fisheries Act violations during the two-month spring lobster fishing season.

Peter Taylor, spokesman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said enforcement officers stepped up patrols at the request of fishermen.

"Overall as the area chief (of conservation and protection), I would say compliance levels have been very good," said Taylor. "We have good compliance because fishermen themselves know they have to protect the fisheries."

He said increasing the presence of officers acts as a deterrent to illegal activities.

Prior to the April 29 season opening, enforcement personnel hosted a Lobster Enforcement Forum in Moncton, which included representatives of several Maritime lobster fishing groups. The meeting provided an opportunity to make suggestions, gain information and discuss concerns.
"As a result of that, one of their concerns was they would like to see an increased presence by fisheries officers on the wharf and on the water to carry out inspections," said Taylor.

Enforcement blitzes were carried out frequently, as large numbers of officers converged at a designated area at the same time.

Kay Wallace, director of the Gulf Nova Scotia Bonafied Fisherman's Association, said some fishermen found the increased enforcement stressful, undergoing frequent inspections, but overall it was a very positive experience.

"The more you see their presence the less likely someone is to break the law. It makes them more cautious," she said.

Coastal areas from Tidnish to northern Cape Breton are patrolled by 17 officers, monitoring the activities of 652 lobster fishermen in three designated lobster fishing areas.

During inspections, either dockside or on the water, officers check documentation, department-issued trap tags and review catches looking for undersize or spawning lobsters, as well as prohibited females with a shell body size between 115 millimetres and 129 mm that are considered very productive for releasing eggs.

Four charges were laid for being in possession of undersized lobster, one for possessing prohibited sized females and one for using lobster traps without valid tags.

The season closed midnight Saturday.

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Lobster Enforcement Forum

Geographic location: Moncton, Maritime, Gulf Nova Scotia Bonafied Fisherman Cape Breton

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