Canada’s weirdest laws: Did you know it’s illegal to steal oysters from oyster beds?

Oyster heists are not really that common in Canada.
Oyster heists are not really that common in Canada. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Yes, that’s right, there is actually a law in the Criminal Code of Canada that makes it illegal to steal oysters from oyster beds.

The law states, “where oysters and oyster brood are in oyster beds, layings or fisheries that are the property of any person and are sufficiently marked out or known as the property of that person, that person shall be deemed to have a special property or interest in them.”

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: it’s illegal to leave an ice fishing hole uncovered

You’d think the voluminous laws in the code that already say it is illegal to steal would be enough to cover the theft of oysters without spelling it out, but apparently the oyster situation needed to be highlighted.

Just as Canadians inherited a law against pretending to practise witchcraft from Great Britain, this oyster law is also inherited. There is an a 200-year-old fishery law from Scotland that looks to be similar to the Canadian one forbidding oyster theft.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: Pretending to practise witchcraft is illegal

Oyster heists are not really that common in Canada. There was only one oyster theft last year in Prince Edward Island.

Apparently between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on the night of Aug. 8-9, thieves stole about 100 boxes of oysters, worth $15,000, from a holding area on the Pinette River.

The heist appears to have been carefully organized. The thieves used a boat to retrieve the shellfish from an underwater holding area, then loaded them onto the boat. Once docked, they put them into a car and drove off. Sounds like a James Bond operation.

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It looks like the P.E.I. heist remains unsolved, but rest assured if the thieves are caught they will be held accountable courtesy of the oyster theft law.

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