YARMOUTH, N.S. – Three Nova Scotia fishermen who were captured on video abusing and killing a seal pup on their boat have been handed hefty fines and a fishing prohibition.
Prosecutor Alex Pink said Mark MacKenzie, the boat’s captain, was ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 and banned from fishing from Jan. 1, 2019, until June 30, 2019 — the most lucrative time for the groundfish fishery off Yarmouth.
“It is a significant penalty and a groundfish prohibition is significant as well,” he said Wednesday from his office in Yarmouth. “That could be thousands and thousands of dollars that that person will not be able to earn.”
Two other people on board also received fines.
Jay Alexander Jenkins was fined $3,500, while Brendon Douglas James Porter must pay a fine of $2,500.
A trial for the three was supposed to begin Tuesday in Yarmouth provincial court, but they pleaded guilty to a charge under the Fishery General Regulations relating to the release of incidental catch.
Pink said it’s difficult to say how the sanctions compared to other cases because “it’s not something we see very often in this country.”
The matter gained national attention last year when a video surfaced on Facebook showing a seal being taunted and prodded with a buoy, and being kicked amid laughter as one man suggests killing it while another talks of getting a machete.
“I want to play tug-of-war with him,” one person can be heard saying in the video, which was obtained by CBC before it was deleted.
The penalties follow intense public condemnation of the abuse and prompted responses on a local newspaper’s Facebook site, praising the judge but also saying they should have been handed stiffer sentences.
“I believe they deserved a whole lot more than they got!!!!” wrote one woman on The Vanguard’s site.
Another said: “So amazing to see this good outcome! Animal abuse like this is never OK under any circumstance.”
Last February, federal Fisheries Department officials said the charges were laid after they were alerted to the video showing the mistreatment of the seal aboard a vessel off Yarmouth.
The men have until Dec. 18, 2018, to pay the fines.