The Canadian seafood company Clearwater was found guilty of "gross violation" of fisheries regulations, after ignoring federal government warnings to change the way the company conducts its monopoly offshore lobster fishery, CBC News reported.
Clearwater headquarters in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
The company, headquartered in Halifax, broke a rule that required that fishing gear at sea must be tended every 72 hours.
Clearwater was convicted for storing 3,800 lobster traps on the ocean bottom off the Nova Scotia coast for more than two months in the fall of 2017 — for 17 consecutive days on one occasion, 31 consecutive days on another.
Lobster fishing areas in Nova Scotia.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)thinks that the practice poses a "serious conservation risk", since lobster and other species can be unintentionally caught.
Clearwater has exclusive rights to Lobster Fishing Area 41, which starts 80 kilometres from shore and runs to the 200-mile limit, extending from Georges Bank to the Laurentian Channel between Cape Breton and Newfoundland.
Clearwater's only offshore lobster vessel, the Randell Dominaux, was either tied up or carrying out a scientific scallop survey for the University of Maine, in the fall on 2017.From the company,they explained that leaving the traps on the ocean floor was cheaper than taking them ashore.
Lobster traps. (Photo: Robert Short/CBC)
In December that year, DFO carried out an at-sea boarding of the Randell Dominaux that revealed "a significant marine resource loss directly linked to the fishing practices."
According to DFO , two trawls contained 128 dead lobsters, 53 weak and bitten lobsters, 60 claws and 18 groundfish. Besides, in one case, 3,400 traps that were unbaited were hauled and found to contain 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of lobster.
Lobster Trap Underwater with Gopro - Catch a Lot Lobster
"Two prior warnings were given by DFO to stop the practice of unlawfully storing gear at sea," federal Crown prosecutor Derek Schnare said. "Despite this warning, however, the practice continued."
The warnings were not passed on to the two captains of the Randell Dominaux, a decision criticized by Schnare as a failure of corporate responsibility.
"The practice of leaving untended traps in the oceans represents a serious conservation risk to Canada's marine resources, both commercial and non-commercial species," Schnare concluded. [email protected] www.fis.com