Nunavut company pleads not guilty to illegal fishing
“This is going to be a very technical prosecution"
A Qikiqtarjuaq fishing company has pleaded not guilty to fishing outside Canadian waters.
George Hudson, captain of the “Suvak,” and fishing company Masiliit Corp., is charged with one count of fishing or trans-shipping fish from a Canadian vessel to an unlicenced foreign vessel.
The crime is alleged to have occurred between Oct. 10 and Oct. 20, 2012 “in waters off the Arctic coast,” or “the waters of Davis Strait, at or near Baffin Island,” according to a court document.
The only waters other than Canadian in that area are Greenlandic.
Under the Fisheries Act, a guilty party may face a maximum fine of $100,000 for a first offence.
For subsequent offences, guilty parties can face imprisonment.
At the Nunavut Court of Justice Feb. 3, defence lawyer David Hearn pleaded not guilty on behalf of Hudson and Masiliit.
That means the case will go to trial, something Crown prosecutor Paul Bychok said could be complicated.
“This is going to be a very technical prosecution,” Bychok told Justice Robert Kilpatrick in court.
Bychok said due to potential technicalities, he could not estimate how long the trial might take.
The two lawyers will meet outside court to come to an agreement on how long the proceedings could take and then a date will be set at their next court appearance, Feb. 24.
Qikiqtarjuaq’s Nattivak Hunters and Trappers Association created Masiliit Corp. in 2005.
The Suvak, a 28-by-6-metre vessel, is currently located at a dock in St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to vesselfinder.com.
Oujukoaq Fisheries Ltd., a Newfoundland-based fishing company, along with co-accused David Dempsey, is charged with the same counts under the Fisheries Act.
A plea for that matter was adjourned until March. 3.
Oujukoaq Fisheries Ltd. is owned by Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd., which in turn, is owned by the Baffin Fisheries Coalition.