South Peace News
Several residents of the High Prairie region are waiting for trials related to charges in connection with an alleged illegal fish operation more than two years ago.
David Rochon, of Faust, is scheduled for trial Sept. 2 in High Prairie in commissioner’s court on one count of unauthorized buying/selling fish.
He is one of 33 people from High Prairie, Faust, Slave Lake and other Alberta communities who face a total of 80 charges under the General Fisheries [Alberta] Regulations, Alberta Fish and Wildlife said Jan. 23, 2020.
Elizabeth Ann Andrews, Lee Roy Andrews, both of Faust, and Ryan Ira Andrews, now of Hay River, N.W.T., are scheduled for a joint trial April 17-21, 2023 in High Prairie provincial court.
Elizabeth Andrews and Ryan Andrews each face three counts of unauthorized buying/selling fish while Lee Andrews faces two counts of unauthorized buying/selling fish.
However, the trial may not proceed, duty counsel Harry Jong told court when the matter was on the High Prairie docket court April 25.
“They are looking for an early case resolution,” Jong said.
Judge G.W. Paul advised the three to talk to the Crown.
The three did not have lawyers at that time. The matter has been on the docket court 22 times.
Judge Paul noted the matter is complex.
Fish and Wildlife laid the charges after a two-year undercover investigation the focused on trafficking of fish in northern and central Alberta. Charges include the unlawful sale, purchase and possession of fish, including lake whitefish and walleye – a precious resource in Alberta worth protecting.
Fish were netted primarily in Lesser Slave Lake northeast of High Prairie and Winagami Lake northwest of High Prairie under the guise of Metis and Treaty domestic fishing rights.
However, no commercial fisheries are located in Alberta and Metis and Treaty harvesting rights allow for personal subsistence use only.
Other people charged are from Morinville, Edmonton, Vegreville, Bashaw, Castor and Halkirk.
The final undercover buy occurred Jan. 23, 2020 when authorities seized a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 truck, four gill nets, five fish tubs and gill netting equipment.
During the investigation, about 12,000 lbs of fish were allegedly illegally killed and subsequently trafficked from Lesser Slave Lake and Winagami Lake.
All fish seized was distributed to people in need throughout Alberta.
Those charged face a maximum fine of $100,000 and incarceration per count.