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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Concern Grows Over Fishing Rules

Regional | by Kevin Bernard  

MPP and MP in Owen Sound ask why no charges have been laid for overfishing.

Both MP Larry Miller and MPP Bill Walker in Bruce Grey Owen Sound are concerned that there is overfishing on Georgian Bay and nothing is being done about it.

In an open letter, the two representatives say they are deeply disappointed that the concerns of local fishermen and conservationists are being ignored by the MNR.

MPP Bill Walker says their phones have been ringing off the hook with complaints that illegal nets are being used by Native fishermen.

They also claim a lot of fish are being inadvertently caught in the nets that are not wanted and thrown away.

Walker says calls to the TIPS line set up by the Ministry of Natural Resources seem to be ignored, as no charges have been laid.

Walker and MP Larry Miller, also expressed their concern that the ministry would allow fish to rot in the nets for as long as seven days.

The Conservative MPP says by abdicating its responsibility of oversight and enforcement, the ministry is essentially harming the very resources they're mandated to protect.

Walker says the ongoing concerns have made this a very difficult time for the local Sportsmen's clubs.

Two long-serving members of the Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen's Association, with a combined service of 80 years dedicated to rebuilding, restoring and rehabilitating fish habitats in our area, have quit in protest over the ministry's nonchalant attitude toward enforcement.

Walker is pressing the Minister of Natural Resources for a full report on how many fish are being pulled out of Georgian Bay, but he is not optimistic that will happen or that the MNR will enforce the current fishing agreement with Commercial Native fishermen.

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The following letter is a joint statement by Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker and MP Larry Miller:

We’re deeply disappointed to see that the ongoing concerns from local fishermen and conservationists about illegal fishing in the local bays continue to go unanswered by the investigation and enforcement unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The unit is tasked with ensuring that all complaints about illegal nets or illegal commercial fishing activity in the local waters get investigated, and if necessary, that the perpetrators be charged. Clearly, this is not happening. As of today, the ministry’s enforcement unit has not laid a single charge even though calls to the TIPS line would suggest an alarming increase in complaints about illegal fishing activities.

Furthermore, we’re very concerned that the ministry would allow fish to rot in the nets for as long as seven days. Such waste of our natural resources is shocking. By abdicating its responsibility of oversight and enforcement, the ministry is essentially harming the very resources they’re mandated to protect, and this is simply unacceptable. Adding to this waste is the use of gill nets, and it’s something we would like to see phased out. In fact, we believe trap nets should replace gill nets to aid protection of the non-targeted fish.

These ongoing concerns have made this a very difficult time for the local sportsmen’s clubs. To our knowledge, two long-serving members, with a combined service of 80 years dedicated to rebuilding, restoring and rehabilitating fish habitats in our area, have quit in protest over the ministry’s nonchalant attitude toward enforcement. There’s no doubt in our mind that unless the MNRF starts doing its job, more good members will resign in protest, and consequently, our local conservation efforts will be fettered. We worry about the long-term impacts that such losses will have on our local waters. Illegal fishing is the single greatest threat to sustainable fisheries everywhere. In an effort to avoid further jeopardizing the sustainability of our resources, we urge the MNRF’s enforcement unit to fulfill its sole responsibility of ensuring that illegal fishing is not happening. We urge them to do their job, and to do it promptly, consistently and effectively.

 

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