For the Lakeside Leader
A man from the High Prairie area charged in connection with a major illegal fish poaching operation could face fines of up to $20,000.
The 84-year-old appeared in High Prairie provincial court Sept. 14 and heard the consequences.
“Crown is considering elevated fines in the about the $15,000 to $20,000 range,” duty counsel Derek Renzini said.
“The intention was to dispose of the charges.”
However, the man told court he is still seeking counsel.
“I have to get a lawyer,” he said.
Crown prosecutor Serge Eta-Ndu presented the disclosure on his desk, which he said is about 1,000 pages.
The matter was set over to Sept. 28 to speak to.
The man pleaded not guilty to five charges on Aug. 17. He is charged with two counts of unauthorized buying and selling of fish, and one count of unauthorized buying of fish waived in from Edmonton.
He is also charged in High Prairie with three counts of unauthorized selling of fish, failing to comply with terms of a fishing licence, and failing to carry a fishing licence while fishing.
“The matter has been set over to Sept. 28 for plea,” Judge J.K. Sihra said.
Three other High Prairie area people charged in the major fish poaching ordeal also returned to court.
Two, a woman and man are each charged with three counts of unauthorized buying or selling fish.
A third man, from High Prairie, is also charged and is scheduled for trial Nov. 6 on one count of unauthorized buying and selling of fish.
The five are among 33 people from the High Prairie, Faust, Slave Lake areas and other Alberta communities facing at total of 80 charges under the General Fisheries [Alberta] Regulations by Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
The other people charged are from Morinville, Edmonton, Vegreville, Bashaw, Halkirk and Castor.
It is alleged the fish netted were primarily in Lesser Slave Lake and Winagami Lake, under the guise of Metis and Treaty domestic fishing rights.
During the course of the investigation, it was estimated that about 12,000 pounds of fish were illegally killed and subsequently trafficked from the two lakes.
There is no commercial fishery in Alberta and Metis and Treaty harvesting rights allow for subsistence use only, so no selling permitted.
The penalty for trafficking fish is a maximum $100,000 and one year in jail per count.