Bouzan v. Canada

In Constitutional Cases, Fish Cases on (Updated )

This case involved two fish harvesters who were charged with failing to tag cod fish immediately after harvesting as required by their recreational fishing licences while fishing on inshore waters of Newfoundland. The case was defended primarily upon the grounds that the Federal Government did not have regulatory authority over the inshore cod fishery because of the fact that during negotiations over the terms of union between Newfoundland and Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada made a firm commitment to preserve the rights of Newfoundlanders to continue to fish of for codfish.

The trial court upheld the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government on the following basis:

1) Long before the Province Nfld. joined Canada, the question of jurisdiction over fishery jurisdiction in Canadian waters was litigated and resolved in favour of the Federal Government;

2) Both the British North America Act and the terms of union between Canada and Nfld. confirm the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government;

3) Since the union of Nfld. with Canada, courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada in Ward v. Canada [2002] 1 S.C.R. 569, have consistently upheld the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government ;

4) This exclusive jurisdiction has not been modified by the headland to headland rule because this rule does not apply to Nfld. because the terms of union included Nfld’s outlying Islands. In any event, the Federal Government’s exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of fisheries would apply even if the Province had jurisdiction over inshore waters by virtue of the headland to headland rule.

Upon being appealed, the appeal court dismissed the appeal.