This case involved a charge under s. 33(2) of the Fishery (General) Regulations of failing to “forthwith” return incidentally caught fish. The fish in this case, were 12 dead salmon incidentally caught in a herring net set to catch bait for lobster traps. Upon being caught on the grounds with a bag containing 12 salmon, the accused gave evidence that his intentions were to transport the salmon approximately 50 feet from the end of his net into deeper water to prevent lobsters in the area from being distracted from his lobster traps. At trial, the court registered a conviction.
Upon summary a conviction appeal, the appeal court distinguished the case of R. v. Symonds (1996) 138 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 109 and entered an acquittal for the following reasons:
1)Contrary to what was said in R. v. Symonds, the value of the fish involved should not be a consideration;
2) The accused also had some herring and mackerel aboard which aided his credibility;
3) “The interpretation of “forthwith” should not be so restrictive as to mean immediately if the explanation given as to why they were not thrown over is reasonable under all the circumstances of the case” (para. 26);
4) “(F)forthwith does not necessarily mean immediately. It, however, can mean as soon as possible in the circumstances.