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Churchill wants fines upped now for buying poached lobster

By Kevin Northup Oct 10, 2023 | 3:13 PM

The province’s Liberal leader says there’s no time to waste on increasing fines for buying illegally-caught lobster.

Zach Churchill says he’s disappointed that it may take up to a year for the province to bump the fines for commercial buyers.

He notes there is evidence of a full-scale illegal lobster fishery in St. Mary’s Bay.

“This is a terrible situation, it’s wrong what’s happening. The province has the ability to stop commercial buyers from purchasing large-scale illegal catches, and they’re not doing anything about it,” said Churchill.

Several arrests have been made by the federal Department of Fisheries throughout the summer, and gear and lobsters have been seized.

Churchill says the commercial lobster industry in LFA 33 and 34 is worth millions.

“We’re heading into fishing season next month, and people are concerned about the poaching. It’s a spawning ground for lobster, and this is the season they do that.”

He says commercial buyers who participate in illegal activity should also lose their licenses.

Last month the province said they would up the fines from a maximum of $100 thousand to $1 million for the commercial buying of illegal lobster.

In a statement to our newsroom from the provincial Department of Fisheries, they say they are reviewing the Nova Scotia Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act, and fines are part of that review.

They say an update will be shared with the industry when they have one.