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Illegal Sales From First Nations Lobster Nets Gives 2 Men 55k Fine

Two men from southwestern Nova Scotia have been convicted for illegally buying and selling lobster caught under an Indigenous Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) licence.

Licence conditions prohibit the sale of the catch.

Terry Dale Banks and Tyler David Nickerson were fined a total of $55,000 in Shelburne provincial court Wednesday.

In a statement to CBC News, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) said the charges stemmed from a September 2018 inspection of a Shag Harbour lobster pound.

The department was under immense pressure at the time from commercial lobster fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia to stop illegal sales of FSC lobster, seen by many as cover for a growing black market fishery.

A month before the Shag Harbour bust, DFO officers seized 100 crates of lobster worth $50,000 from a pound in New Edinburgh. It suspected those lobsters were caught and retained under an FSC fisheries licence.

Given the most recent conviction, CBC News asked the Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Department about the status of the provincial licences that allow the Shag Harbour lobster pound to operate.

Minister Steve Craig issued this statement in response:

"The Nova Scotian government is aware of the recent conviction of these two individuals and is reviewing the matter for any violation of provincial regulations. We expect licence holders to operate within the law at all times and take these issues seriously. It is important that we take the time to gather all of the facts, We don't have a timeline for a decision on the matter at this point."

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