Argh! More illegal fishing!

June 25, 2008

Note: this one has a twist.



Bass poaching goes unpunished

also click The Review Mirror to the right of this page for another view of this story.

This a story in the Brockville Recorder and Times I hoped we would not see. On the front page of Monday’s edition the story tells that a father and son of Asian descent on Friday last caught four bass in Westport, showed them off to bystanders, and refused to return them to the water when asked repeatedly to do so by observers. The fish were dead by the time a conservation officer arrived on the scene, but he did not lay charges, despite the flurry of calls to the TIPS line and the Ministry of Natural Resources which brought him there from Kemptville in the first place. Anglers and civic officials in Westport at first were understandably disappointed and frustrated at what appeared to be an unfair action.

Turns out the conservation officer may have been right. The man and his son were very recently arrived in the community from China. The wife and mother of the family (who does have a fishing license) plans to join an existing medical practice in the village as soon as she completes her certification. Why the husband took his son fishing without a license is beyond me, but in the interests of allowing the new family to fit into the community, the accusers unanimously agreed to educate rather than punish.

The Friday Fiasco, as The Review Mirror reporter/photographer Marco Smits dubbed it, stands out as a classic example of how a news story can have an entirely different look as one gains more knowledge of the people and the events.

I do have a suggestion to whoever looks after recent immigrants from China. Fergoodness sakes, if someone is heading for Eastern Ontario in summer, he/she’s going to be drawn irresistably to the area’s fishing holes. Make sure they are warned. They know enough to get driver’s licenses, insurance, learn the traffic laws, so why can’t they learn the rules surrounding a favourite summertime activity? This is a no-brainer, folks.

Before Barbara Hall comes shrieking down upon this admitted example of stereotyping, I’d like to mention another. Death angel mushrooms are deadly. Four hours after a delicious meal, symptoms of food poisoning strike, last about twelve hours, then go away. Within a week most sufferers are dead, though, from multiple organ failure. Virtually all recorded fatalities from death angels in North America are Cambodian immigrants. It wipes out whole families. Why? The deadly fungus is almost identical to the sand mushroom, a very popular treat in Cambodia. The children generally die first, and then the parents. Does it make sense to target Cambodian immigrants when they arrive and warn them about the trap which awaits?

The Fiasco story initially reminded me very much of a similar situation I encountered while crappie fishing at a culvert on Opinicon this spring. This time the perpetrator was a prosperous-looking, bald, middle aged Caucasian in a white Ford Explorer. He sat on the culvert on a 5 gallon pail with fish in it. He caught a lovely crappie and I complimented him on it. Then I noticed the tail of a giant crappie in his pail. Waitaminute! That thing weighs four to five pounds. That one’s a bass.

“That’s a largemouth! You have to let that go!” He just looked at me.

“I’ve been around a long time. I know what I’m doing.” He returned his attention to the water.

The man had obviously decided that law enforcement was not a factor, and he would help himself to what he wanted. None of the other three fishermen at the hole said anything during this encounter. They were obviously aware of the illegal fish, but had chosen to keep quiet. I don’t know if the four fishermen were together, or not. Four vehicles were parked there.

In fury I stalked away, and haven’t written anything about it until now.

I understand how the witnesses to the poaching in Westport must have felt. What bothers me is that they made the effort to report the crime — something I for whatever reason did not do.


One Response to “Argh! More illegal fishing!”

  1. Mike Says:

    “We encourage people to make use of the tips line but given the logistics, we do not provide emergency response. In our jurisdiction, we are running 10 to 12 officers, there are probably 2000 or more police officers. It is just unrealistic to even anticipate emergency response time,” Aubrey said.


    I EXPECT action from the MNR … ’tis bad enough they rely on citizenry to do their job in a known “hot spot”, but to claim they cannot provide a response when poaching is reported is simply unacceptable. Just where does the gads of money raised from fishing licences go ? If they need to … double the cost to cover proper enforcement.

    I’m not sure I agree with the course of action the officer chose. The licence .. well, meh, it’s clear they aren’t spending the money raised appropriately anyhow. Poaching, well, that’s another matter entirely. If the wife has a licence and she is a professional, then ignorance of the regs is pretty hard to argue. Anyone “plugged into” either the Asian or Westport community should have know this was not acceptable. Even IF they were ignorant … when the rules were explained any law-abiding conservation -minded citizen would be agast at their ignorance and put the fish back.

    The fact that they refused speaks VOLUMES to me.

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