CORNER BROOK — A Bay of Islands fisherman trying to make the most of the limited time he had to catch halibut has found himself set back $1,000, not to mention the fish he caught.
Douglas Sheppard, 46, was charged with two breaches of federal fisheries legislation after a Department of Fisheries and Oceans officer and two fisheries guardians were on patrol on the morning of June 26.
They found baited halibut gear set prior to the 9 a.m. start of the halibut fishery that day. When the gear was hauled up, it was also noted the hooks on the gear were smaller than permitted for that type of fishing.
According to the Crown attorney Andrew May, the smaller hooks were believed to be better suited for catching cod, which is often a bycatch of halibut.
In provincial court Tuesday morning, Sheppard entered guilty pleas to fishing during a closed season and using illegal gear.
He told Judge Kymil Howe that it is difficult trying to make a living from the fishery now that he only has a 24-hour period to catch halibut. As for the hooks, he said the wrong gear got accidentally mixed in with his halibut gear.
He also told the judge he lost time he could have been fishing talking to the DFO agents and that he released all of his catch of halibut and a bycatch of cod when the 24-hour fishery closed the following day.
“In actual fact, I went in the hole big time,” Sheppard, who represented himself, said of his one-day halibut fishing season this year.
Howe told Sheppard he is not the only one who finds it difficult making a profit from the halibut fishery and that he was greedy in trying to get an early advantage over others pursuing the fish legally.
May had sought a total of between $1,250 and $1,500 in fines, but Howe gave Sheppard a bit of a break by fining him $750 for fishing during a closed time and another $250 for the illegal gear.