A fishery officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was convicted May 29 for exceeding the daily allowable catch of groundfish.
Stephen Wade Smith, 57, was convicted in provincial court in Clarenville following a trial heard by Judge Harold Porter.
Smith, a resident of Harbour Grace, was fined $1,000 and prohibited from fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador waters for one year.
According to information filed in court, the charge stems from an incident that took place at or near the community of Harcourt, Trinity Bay on July 30, 2013.
When contacted by phone on Monday, June 2, Smith declined comment, but described himself as a “retired” fishery officer.
Smith was charged under the Atlantic Fisheries Regulations. Specifically, he was charged under Section 91 (3) (B), which states that, “No person engaged in recreational fishing for groundfish shall, in any day, catch and retain more than a quota of 10 groundfish of all species in the aggregate, comprising, (3) a total of not more than five cod, haddock and pollock; and (B) not more than one halibut.”
In a statement emailed to The Compass, a DFO spokesman noted that due to privacy legislation, “we cannot discuss personal details related to our employees.”
However, the statement confirmed that Smith is a DFO employee, and that he was apprehended by DFO fishery officers.
He was on leave from his job at the time of the incident, and remains on leave, the statement explained.
According to the DFO website, fishery officers are trained to carry out a wide range of duties, on land and at sea, and are the federal government’s first line of support in:
• enforcing the Fisheries Act and other related acts and regulations;
• protecting fishery resources and fish habitats by conducting patrols on the land, on the sea and in the air; and
• participating in public education and awareness of the fishery resources and habitat protection.
Fishery officers are guided by a professional code of ethics. According to the DFO statement, this code “requires that officers conduct themselves at all times, both on and off duty, in a manner that demonstrates the highest standard of observance of the laws, including those which they are responsible for enforcing.
“A breach of these values or expectations of conduct may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.”