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Canadian Fisherman Catch a Record Fine

They were the highest fines ever levied for fishing violations in Canadian history and those responsible are now going to have to pay up after losing their appeal in the case.

In a decision released March 30, Supreme Court Justice Margaret Stewart upheld the 2006 provincial court convictions of a Sambro company and seven Halifax County fishermen fined a total of nearly $840,000.

Ivy Fisheries Limited, its directors and employees landed 135 illegally caught bluefin tuna in three months in late 2000. The catch was sold for almost $1.2 million.

The company and men were convicted of various offences, including failing to return tuna caught while using a shark licence, fishing more than one licence at the same time, failing to immediately hail catches to a dockside monitoring company, and “double-fishing” by having employees fish from one boat while the director licenced to use it fished from another vessel.

Ivy Fisheries was fined more than $650,000. Three brothers who own and operate the company – Clark Andrew Henneberry, Wesley Clark Henneberry and Marcel Steven Henneberry – were fined $17,500, $62,000 and $72,000 respectively. Andrew William Henneberry, who was involved in the illegal selling of the tuna, was fined $11,000.

A fill-in captain for three trips, Paul Raymond Parnell, was fined $7,500. Two employees who made trips while the main players double-fished with other boats – Gregory Burton Smith and James Phillip Ryan – were fined $13,000 and $5,000 respectively.

The convictions were appealed on a total of 13 grounds. Among those issues, the defence argued that Judge Anne Crawford erred in allowing some evidence, in concluding that there was sufficient evidence for convictions and in handing down sentences which were “manifestly excessive.”

In a 67-page written decision, Justice Stewart found no such mistakes.

“In my view, the essential factual elements of each count are established overwhelmingly by the evidence at trial,” she wrote. “In my opinion, when the whole of the evidence in respect to each offence is considered, the facts are such as to be inconsistent with any other reasonable conclusion than that reached by the trial judge.”

As for the defence’s position that the fines imposed are “grossly disproportional and overly harsh,” Justice Stewart concluded the penalties were appropriate and the argument to the contrary was weak.

“Fines cannot be considered to be inappropriately high simply because the appellants would have preferred lower ones,” she wrote. “The penalties fall within the established sentencing range and were not excessive or unreasonable in the circumstances.”

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