Dalhousie Law Journal


fishing licence, common law, fishing, lobster licence, groundfish licence, ships, vessels, shipping


The property status of a fishing licence has for a long time been undecided. The judicial decisions have varied significantly on whether a fishing licence is property at common law or pursuant to various statutory definitions. The significance ofthe issue lies primarily in the financial arena. It is most often the case that the preponderance of the value in a fishing enterprise lies with the fishing licence rather than in the vessel. It is not uncommon for a lobster licence to approach one million dollars in value.' When quota is allocated to groundfish licences, the value of the package can easily grow to many millions. On the other hand, the fishing vessel may be worth a fraction of the licence.