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Trial continues in St. John’s for tour boat skipper charged with harassing whale

The trial of a tour boat skipper accused of disturbing a whale near Cape Spear two years ago will continue in provincial court in St. John’s today.
Walter Reddick, 64, has been charged under the Fisheries Act with unlawfully disturbing a marine mammal in connection with an incident alleged to have happened Aug. 5, 2014. Tour company Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours has also been charged, and will be tried separately.
It marks the first time the charges have been laid in this province.
Defence lawyer Kevin Stamp and prosecutor Anne Fagan spent Tuesday in a voir dire — essentially a mini trial within a trial, in which details are banned from publication — dealing with a matter with an expert witness for the Crown.
Reddick had a boat-load of tourists aboard the Cetacean Quest and is alleged to have brought them too close to a humpback whale in the incident in question, which was caught on video by CBC reporters who were filming on the water that day.
Scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were also on the water, studying whales in the area.
In the video, which has been entered as evidence in the trial, the Cetacean Quest and another smaller boat can be seen moving near the whale.
The court heard that DFO officers launched an investigation after receiving a report from one of the researchers about what he called “whale harassment.”
The operator of the smaller boat, who has not been charged, testified when Reddick’s trial got underway last spring that he and four others were taking part in the recreational cod fishery that day, and had seen the whale on their way back to shore. The Cetacean Quest came between their boat and the whale, Cyril Garland said, getting close enough to make him complain to Iceberg Quest and the Coast Guard.
Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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