R v. Hawkins

In Fish Cases, Miscellaneous, Offences on (Updated )

This is a case arising out of an evening stake out operation after fisheries officers noted that a boat that was usually moored in a location was missing with a pick up truck parked close by. At 9:15 p.m. the officers observed the boat motor into a harbour and then heard a boat with a distinctive sounding engine start.

Shortly thereafter a smaller boat was observed paddling into a beach area where two individuals landed two pans on the beach. They then got into the boat and started the engine, which was observed to have the same distinctive sound as the engine heard earlier. Shortly thereafter fisheries officers had an opportunity to observe the two individuals in the smaller boat. The pans were then recovered and found to contain 250-300 pounds of very fresh (some still alive) cod.

Later that evening, the fisheries officers who observed the two individuals in the small boat with the distinctive sounding engine were able to identify the same individuals after following the pick up truck earlier observed to a house.

At trial, the individuals identified were convicted of both illegal possession and illegal fishing. Upon appeal, the appellants attempted to argue that the trial judge erred in inferring that the persons in possession of the fish also caught the fish. In denying the appeal and upholding the conviction the appeal court ruled that "while it does not necessarily follow that a person who has possession of fish also caught it, it is not true to say that it will never be so" (para. 32). In the circumstances of this case, the appeal court was prepared to uphold the inference of fishing made by the trial court.