One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, Whose Fish?

Every once in a while I feel the need to rep-re-sent the East Coast on Slaw and the following case which was heard at the SCC on Wednesday of this week (Jan 23) does that; but it also raises an interesting question that has broader implications. Simply put, can a commercial fishing license be defined as property under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act? Here is a story about the case from the local paper. And the summary from the SCCRoyal Bank of Canada v. Saulnier.

A simplified synopsis is if the court rules in favour of the Royal Bank it would introduce property rights throughout the commercial fishery in Canada allowing licenses to be used as collateral in bank loans. A broader implication is the possibility that fishing rights would come to be concentrated in the hands of a few corporations and the wealthy.

P.S. I see that the Court has already posted on this case, but I think that is worthwhile to post here as well, this could be described as a “sleeper” case.


  1. Thanks for the heads up and links about this case, Mark. I confess I only read the summaries and had a quick look at the CA decision, but I agree that the potential implications for the reach of BIA “property” and also PPSA intangible “personal property” make the case of interest and import beyond the coasts, that is, in terms of rights under other types of licences.

  2. Mark, I think you’re right that we folks west of PEI don’t take fishing as seriously as we ought. (It’s the case that folks east of the Manitoba border don’t take crops as seriously as they ought, either: is there a law school in Ontario that has any course on agricultural issues in any respect?)

    I’m all the more conscious of this neglect of what grows because I’m teaching a first year course in property law again and have had to choose to look at this and not that in the materials and in class. But I’ve also put up a blog — The Property Law Blog — for the time being, at least, where I can post material of interest, such as a pointer to the Saulnier case, for example, that students are not “responsible” for but might wish to peruse when avoiding assigned work. So thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    And by way of return, I offer yesterday’s post on the Property Law Blog, which will point you to the draft of a great article by Bruce Ziff on the way the courts in Newfoundland developed the law of capture of wild animals to respond to the needs of the seal hunt.