Fisheries (Alberta) Amendment Act
More Sentencing Options Available for Fisheries Violations
Alberta's domestic, recreational and commercial fishers will continue to benefit from our fish resources now that the
Fisheries (Alberta) Amendment Act, 2009 has passed into law. The Act adds several new sentencing options (creative
sentencing) to deter actions that damage the province's fish populations:
Frequently Asked Questions about the Fisheries (Alberta) Amendment Act
Why do we need more sentencing options for fisheries violations?
The public and fisheries stakeholders expect tougher penalties for fisheries violations such as the illegal stocking of
We also need to ensure that Albertans continue to benefit from the effort and investments made in our fisheries resources
by government, fisheries groups, industry and the public.
More sentencing options will better equip the courts to protect our fish resources by including penalties that could hold
offenders responsible for returning a damaged fishery back to a healthy state.
What are some examples of the new sentencing options?
Prior to these sentencing options, the courts were limited to assessing fines and short licence suspensions for fisheries
violations. Among many options, the new sentencing orders can include:
- Assessing a fishery's restoration costs to convicted persons
- Issuing orders to stop new offences
- Suspending or cancelling licences
- Ordering fisheries restoration actions
- Assessing additional monetary payments to support fisheries management and habitat enhancement programs
What would be an example of creative sentencing under the Act?
Ongoing court proceedings involve numerous serious Fisheries (Alberta) Act violations resulting from a successful
undercover operation in the Lac La Biche and Athabasca areas. There have been 10 accused persons convicted as a result of
this investigation, who have been fined a total of $140,000.
Through creative sentencing, a portion of that amount could be assessed in the form of an order for payment to support fisheries
management programs. In addition, orders could be issued to the convicted persons requiring that they report future fishing
What is the reason for assessing a fishery's restoration costs to convicted persons?
Fines from convictions, which are directed to the General Revenue Fund, are not adequate to cover the cost of restoring
lost fisheries, and all of the cost is currently being borne by the government and fishery stakeholder groups.
Estimates to restore trout fisheries affected by the illegal stocking of perch have ranged from $100,000 to $500,000 depending
on the size and complexity of the water body.
Creative sentencing could order an offender to pay the full cost to re-create the stocked fishery as it was prior to the
illegal fish introduction.
Is creative sentencing used to enforce any other acts?
Yes. For many years, the courts have been successfully using creative sentencing under the Wildlife Act and the Environmental
Protection and Enhancement Act to deal with serious offenders.
For example, through creative sentencing, offenders have been ordered to report their subsequent hunting activities or make
payments to the Minister's programs for wildlife conservation.
The amendments to the Fisheries (Alberta) Act will follow existing creative sentencing models.
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Updated: Oct 18, 2011