Section 27 of the Marine Mammal Regulations prohibits the sale, trade or barter of young harp seals and hooded seals. W held a commercial sealing licence issued under the Fisheries Act which permitted him to harvest hooded and harp seals. On a seal hunt in 1996, W harvested approximately 50 seals. He was charged with selling blueback pelts contrary to s. 27 of the Regulations. W argued that s. 27 was ultra vires Parliament.
This appeal concerns the federal and provincial division of powers set out in ss. 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867. It focuses on the constitutionality of a federal regulation prohibiting the sale of young hooded and harp seals. The issue is whether this prohibition falls under the federal government’s
power to legislate in relation to sea coast and inland fisheries or the criminal law, in which
case it is valid, or whether it falls under the provincial power over property and civil rights, in which
case it is invalid.
The court concluded that the regulation was valid federal legislation under the fisheries
power. The federal power over fisheries is not confined to conserving fish stocks, but extends to the
management of the fisheries as a public resource. This resource has many aspects, one of which is to
yield economic benefits to its participants and more generally to all Canadians. The prohibition on the
sale of young hooded and harp seals was designed to curtail a hunt that was damaging the economic
viability of the sealing industry and the fisheries resource in general. This brings the regulation
within the fisheries power.
Source: Case Law
Jurisdiction: Canada (Federal)