Greer Hunt says violations of licence requirements were ‘very minor’

Originally Published by CBC, August 26, 2015

By Terry Roberts

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed that officers are investigating possible infractions of the bluefin tuna fishery, though licence-holder Greer Hunt says any violations were “very minor.”

Hunt’s son, Greer Jr., made headlines last week after he hooked a 320-kilogram fish just off Bauline.

Hunt holds one of four recreational/charter licences in Newfoundland and Labrador, but has the only one that allows for the fishing of tuna with a rod and reel in Conception Bay. The other three are located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to DFO.

During an interview Wednesday with CBC News, Hunt acknowledged he was unknowingly breaching some of the conditions of his licence, including allowing fishing activity on his vessel when he wasn’t present, or failing to formally designate someone in his absence.

The licence also requires that fishing activity be promptly reported to DFO, that the licence registration number be prominently displayed on the vessel, and that tuna must be hoisted into the vessel instead of being towed to port.

Hunt admitted that he sometimes reported activity “every second day,” and that he “didn’t know” of the other two requirements until just recently.

Hunt said he did not intentionally break any rules.

“These things are very minor and we have no problem with living up to them and making sure that we’re in compliance with them,” he said.

A ‘commotion’ at the dock

The licence was granted to Hunt’s late father some 55 years ago, and has remained in the family.

It’s been a good year for the fishery, with four large tuna being landed by Hunt’s 46-foot Viking sports-fishing boat so far this season.

But witnesses say there was a “commotion” in Conception Bay late last week after Hunt’s vessel docked and DFO officers arrived.

Hunt wasn’t present, and said the longtime captain of his vessel brought in a tuna.

He said the officers pointed out the violations.

“DFO is doing their job. I got no problem with that. We’re working between ourselves and DFO to still accommodate the way we’ve been fishing for years, and still live within the regulations that the way the commercial fishery is handled,” he explained.

Tuna stocks tightly controlled

Hunt said his vessel does not have the means to lift a heavy tuna into the boat while at sea, and said DFO has agreed to waive that requirement.

He’s not sure whether he will face any charges, and DFO would only say that the matter is under investigation.

According to DFO, the Canadian bluefin tuna fishery is tightly controlled.

The stocks are managed under the jurisdiction of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas or ICCAT.

Hunt has a quota of 1.5 tonnes for the recreational/charter fishery, and can also fish during the commercial harvest, which begins Oct. 1.

The total quota for Newfoundland and Labrador this year is 66.6 tonnes, or roughly 13 per cent of the Atlantic Canadian quota.

The primary market for bluefin tuna is Japan.

Photo courtesy of CBC