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Four P.E.I. fishermen net fines for illegal practices

Traps, ropes and buoys provide a fitting frame for a lobster boat at Milligan’s Wharf on Sunday.  The gear is all destined for the waters of Lobster Fishing Area 24.
Eric Leard MacKinnon, 53, of Murray River, was fined $28,200 for hauling in undersized lobsters. (File photo) - Eric McCarthy

Several lobster fishermen reeled in hefty fines Thursday for illegal fishing practices.

The biggest hit was delivered to Eric Leard MacKinnon, 53, of Murray River.

He was fined $28,200 and suspended the first day of the 2019 lobster fishing season after pleading guilty to hauling in 82 undersized lobsters.

MacKinnon said he was prepared to pay the fine in full right away.

He was nabbed on May 30 at Machon’s Point wharf following a routine inspection by fisheries’ officers.

MacKinnon, like three other lobster fishermen appearing in provincial court in Georgetown Thursday, was charged under the federal Fisheries Act.

MacKinnon apologized to the court and to the fishing community, noting he was mistakenly using last year’s gauge to measure his catches.

Chief provincial court Judge Nancy Orr told MacKinnon lobster fishing is a highly regulated industry and fishermen must keep abreast of any changes to regulations.

This year, fishermen have been legally bound to throw back lobsters with a carapace less than 73 millimetres long — that's one millimetre larger than it had been.

They also must throw back smaller female lobsters in an effort to increase egg production. Until now, fishermen could keep females over 129 millimetres — now, they can keep those only 115 millimetres or less.

Orr also admonished the other three fishermen for breaking the rules, noting fishing regulations are put in place for conservation purposes.

The judge fined Kurt Joseph Clohossey, 42, of Tignish $2,250 for possessing nine female lobsters with eggs attached.

A fisheries officer caught Clohossey, who has no prior record and was described as co-operative, being in violation of the federal Fisheries Act on May 30 in Beach Point. All nine lobsters were released back into the water.

John W. Ferguson, 57, of Murray River was fined $900 after being caught with nine undersized lobsters on May 30.

Ronald Wayne Gormley, 74, of Murray Harbour was fined $7,500 for possessing 60 undersized lobsters on May 14 in Naufrage. He asked for one week to pay.

Gormley is also suspended from fishing the first six days of the 2019 lobster season in District 24.

If he sells his licence before the start of the season, he must pay a $18,175 fine at the time of transfer of his licence, thus lifting the suspension.

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