It’s been almost five years, but the legal wrangling over fisheries charges ended with Richard (Ricky) Byron Crane being fined of $2,000 on Tuesday.
Crane, 31, of Cox’s Cove appeared in provincial court in Corner Brook with two charges against him.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred while Crane was fishing lobster in June 2009. The charges had been the subject of many legal challenges, including an application for a stay of proceedings in 2010 and appeals in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.
It was a June 2013 Court of Appeal decision that sent the charges back to provincial court to be heard.
In court Tuesday, federal Crown attorney Andrew May indicated that a charge of failure to comply with the condition of a licence had been previously disposed of and that left the charge of possessing undersized lobster to be dealt with.
Crane, who represented himself in court, entered a guilty plea on the charge.
In the facts read out by May, the court was told that fisheries officers and river guardians checking traps in the area of Barachois Brook and Middle Arm in June 2009 found a pot that had a holding crate attached to it. The crate contained 13 undersized lobsters.
The pot contained tags issued to Crane who at the time was fishing as a designate on his grandfather’s licence.
Officers then staked out the area and the next morning observed boats, including a grey dory that was identified as belong to and operated by Crane leaving Cox’s Cove.
Crane was later observed hauling in the pot with the crate and later throwing it back over and heading back to Cox’s Cove.
When officers hauled the pot again they noted it had additional lobsters in it, but May said the Crown was only proceeding on the 13 undersized ones originally found in the pot.
The fisheries officers and guardians returned to Cox’s Cove where Crane was being detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and he was charged.
May said Crane did not have a prior record and since the charge has complied with he conditions of the fishing licence of which is now the holder.
He said the lobsters were returned to the water and he suggested a fine of $3,000 would be appropriate as it was clearly a deliberate act as there was a separate repository for the undersized lobsters on the pot.
Crane, however, asked Judge Wayne Gorman to consider a lesser fine. He argued he has been dealing with the matter since 2009 and in three different courts and felt $3,000 was too high.
Crane noted he has already served a seven-day suspension. He was also fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to possessing v-notched lobster.
While Gorman agreed with May that a $3,000 fine was reasonable he did take into account that the matter has been going on for some time and that Crane had no previous convictions.
Gorman set the fine at $2,000 and gave Crane 12 months to pay it.