A Caribou fishermen’s plea for a judge to go easy on him resulted in a hefty fine and three days lost fishing time.
Edwin Donald Shaw, 54, of Glen Road, Pictou County was sentenced Monday in Pictou provincial court to pay a $2,500 fine after pleading guilty to having five lobsters under the legal length in his catch May 2.
He is also prohibited from fishing for three days during the 2019 lobster season.
Shaw told the court the stress of getting the lobster season started as well as adhering to its regulations, both old and new, caused him to make a costly mistake the second day into the season.
“Go easy on me,” he said to the judge when asked if he had any final comments.
Crown Attorney Bronwyn Duffy told the court fisheries officers boarded Shaw’s boat May 2 in waters near Pictou Island and inspected his catch where they found five lobsters less than the required 73 mm in length.
All three men onboard were charged with the same offence, but charges against Shaw’s two helpers were dropped Monday after he entered his guilty plea.
Duffy said Shaw was co-operative with officers and entered an early guilty plea, but he did have a conviction for the same offence dating back to 2011.
“My only excuse is oversight on my part,” Shaw said in a statement he wrote to the court. “Having had the privilege to commercially fish for many years, I understand well on stewardship and conservation. I take full responsibility in overseeing the operation of my vessel and shamefully regret this mistake.”
The Crown recommended the court consider four days loss of fishing, but Shaw asked the court to consider two days.
“As an independent owner/operator fisherman, unforeseen costs, constant upgrades and maintenance, crews and vessel expenses and stable economics are unpredictable yearly. Just as unpredictable as the species we fish,” he said, adding loss of days is a real hardship in seasonal work that offers no retirement packages, health or dental plans.
Judge Del Atwood said the offence is on the low end of the scale considering only five lobsters in Shaw’s daily catch were under legal length, but the industry is heavily regulated and laws are in place to not only protect the species, but also the livelihood of fishers such as Shaw.