….fishing. I like fish. I like boats. And I like catching fish and then eating them but, well, the fishing part is pretty boring for me. It’s like watching TV but not turning it on…kinda hoping it turns itself on…..ya know? So, it stands to reason that I rarely fish. I figure maybe twice a year. For ten minutes. Fifteen tops.
But that anti-fishing, pro-eating intro is just the ‘set-up’…..the story is:
Once again the recent storms sent a gush of water down our stream and, in that deluge, the pick-up pipe clogged up again. We have found that the most efficient way of dealing with that is that I drive Sal in, she gets out on the rocks and goes up the hill, does the work, and then comes down and I pick her up on another set of rocks on the other side of our bay. Total elapsed time is between 30 and 40 minutes. If she takes her own boat in and has to tie it up and all that, the chore is 60+ minutes and much more difficult.
After we discovered the best way to do it, I felt that 30 to 40 minutes was just NOT enough time to do anything useful while she was doing the clean-out. So, I grabbed a rod and dipped a hook off our point. I’d do that for a while (ten minutes) and then go back and pick her up.
Which is precisely what transpired last Thursday. She worked. I fished. Then she called for an extraction. As we were leaving the bay, I saw a boat coming in our direction. That is weird. Rarely does anyone come into our bay and there was no one living nearby but us. I said to Sal, “Pull in the rod and lay it on the floor.”
Our area is closed to fin-fishing. And I know that. I was cheating. I do not feel too guilty because I never catch anything and I have a license and it is kinda like ‘my bay’. But I am guilty. I know that. My rationale would not stand up in a court so I partially hid the rod. Glad I did.
As we pulled into our dock, the boat came up to us. It bristled with antennas and fancy equipment. It was impressive. Onboard the Fisheries Patrol boat were four crew all kitted up with all sorts of standard issue crap. We were hailed by a smiling fellow who asked, “Got any fish?”
“Nope”. Now that was the truth. No lies. But no extra words either. I had been fishing but that was NOT the question.
“So, what were you doing in the bay?”
I began to feel my anti-authoritarian inclination begin to rise in me like black bile. But Sal answered nicely. “We live here. We get our water from the stream in the bay. The pipe was clogged so I went in to unclog it. And that is my story.”
I could not help myself and added, “And it is a good story, don’t you fellows think?”
To their credit, they laughed. But they also looked in our boat the best that they could. They did not get too close. They were being careful with their new boat. The vessel is easily a $500,000, fully fitted out, twin 300hp Yamaha powered aluminum and inflatable tubed beauty. It was close to 30 feet in length.
“You guys look a little understaffed for this kind of work.”
They laughed. “We just wanted a ride on the new boat!”
Normally, we would only see two crew in full regalia. That day we enjoyed well over $500,000 in crew (annualized) riding around in a $500,000 boat watching out for a guy in a 17′ foot boat in January catching a fish. I dunno….seems like ‘overkill’ to me.
They explained that the were policing illegal prawning in the area but it was my opinion that prawning was legal and I asked about that. “Well, it was legal but DFO has closed it recently. We had to confiscate four traps today.” They showed off their seized contraband. They were proud. The four traps were the equivalent of half a shopping buggy at Save-On.
” I am sure few locals know of the change in the rules. We will tell them by writing that up in our local paper. When is it open again?”
“April 1st. Gotta protect the females-with-eggs you know.”
Firstly, no one keeps females with eggs. Secondly, it is the commercial fishery that is decimating the prawn fishery. Some boats set as many as 600 traps (large) and they set and pull two or even three times a day. Multiply that by at least three big boats and the picture is clear. NOT LOCALS. Thirdly, there is never a DFO fishery patrol boat when you need one. Some poor, local guy drops two or four traps now and then. Sal and I drop 4 – 8 traps for two or three days a year, get 25 pounds and let the rest of the prawns keep fresh in the sea. We and the locals are not the problem. But we and the locals are the ones hassled.
Am I angry? No. Not in the least. Like most things, I just find it all so stupid. Confiscating ‘recreational’ traps in January is simply targeting the wrong segment at the wrong time. They will only get a local catching dinner. They know that. Close the commercial fishery or stop sales to Japan and China or sink $1M a year into a prawn hatchery or something constructive and positive and the problem is solved. Prosecute, persecute, alienate, anger and steal from ‘the people’ and you only make the problem worse.
OK, I am little ticked.
You have a very good point as it appears the DFO seems overly concerned with the ‘’little fish.” They (DFO) will be able to write a report that they questioned a pair of possible scoff laws in a closed fishing area and thus justifying their joy ride. It’s the paper they need.
And that is really bad news! We just dropped a bundle on new traps and gear! G Damn It!!!
Now I’m a little ticked too. Sons of B’s… Still,
I hope your pipe stays clear for weeks n weeks. And Sal gets a break. Cheers!
Oh and some good news, with the blazing Sun that finally came out today, we did our very first load of off-grid solar powered laundry today! 3 loads, wash and dry, tho it barely dented the dirty clothes pile, but still, an auspicious day! Drinks for EVERYOne!!!😉😂🤣
Another great story…makes me smile again. But I also agree on the underlying issues. Same story everywhere…hassle to small guy (fisher) and leave the big bucks alone. There are plenty of better ways to spend taxpayers money! But I think I also read that the community had a “win” on some big commercial salmon farm? So the small fish win sometimes! And to David, enjoy the drinks….small step for man, big step….
Grrr! My Story:
I have 100 acres of swamp in the Agriculture Land Registry (ALR)
So I felt obligated to farm it (duh), but conventional farming is out of the question.
I applied to the ALR for permission to ‘Aquafarm’ the property. APPROVED!, subject to a host of qualifications.
I applied to Ministry of Health, Ministry of Mines, Environment, etc., etc Had lots of time whilst I built the ponds.
Eventually got a License to Farm Rainbow Trout from Provincial Fisheries, good for five years
Stocked said ponds and received letter from DOF informing that I required a License to Farm Fish.
Advised DOF that I did indeed have a license. They advised that I had a PROVINCIAL license but they had taken over jurisdiction and I needed a FEDERAL license!
In an effort to be compliant I agreed to obtain one, but they ‘didn’t have the required information’.
That was five years ago. I’m still waiting!
I’m visited every so often by a couple of officers to ensure that I’m complying with such and such regulations, but otherwise my fish and I are pretty much unmolested, other than the odd otter and osprey. Them I can accommodate.
Perhaps they’re waiting for a new boat!
It is nigh on impossible to defend the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They continually screw up in almost everything they do. The main reason is that their mission statement is stupid and backwards. Here it is: “Our mission is to ensure Canada’s aquatic ecosystems and fisheries are sustainable and economically successful. We also keep Canadian waters safe and secure.”
Firstly, most Canadians think the mission is to keep the various fisheries sustainable and growing. Most of us are not worried about them being economically successful. If there are plenty of fish in the sea, then the economics takes care of itself. In practice, the DFO puts the ‘business’ of fish OVER the actual health of the fish. I think that is backwards.
I think DFO putting the second sentence in there makes it look like an afterthought (which it is). How can they make the seas safe and secure? What they really mean is ‘fining people for life-jacket infractions’ and hassling folks. They do NOT mean dealing with International incursions like the US ‘bully-boating’ all over our coast. They do not mean having a great Navy (our submarines are on land, our airplanes are mothballed and our helicopters fall out of the shy with alarming regularity). DFO spends their money against domestic fishermen in small, tin boats or guys with trout ponds. They stand aside for the US navy AND US corporations. I do not feel as if they are working for us one tiny bit.
Don’t take it personal John, I meant the big commercial farms 🙂
My uncle was a Lobster fisherman.
Boat, gear( 200 traps), and license was worth about 700k to 1 million depending on the year , ettc.
At the end of each season any traps that were badly damaged were gutted of their nets and tossed over board.
This has been going on for generations.
One year ( 1980’s) after the lobster season was over my dad and I wanted to go scuba diving so my uncle offered to take us a few miles off shore to his fishing grounds to look for some traps that had lost their floats ( someone cut them off to spite him).
So down we went…about 80 feet deeep.
There. On the bottom as far as you could see were traps, Old smashed traps with the nets still on them, undamaged traps with the nets still on them, traps with the nets cut out of them….. a garbage yard of traps.
I couldnt believe it.
Some of them had 4 , 5, 6 lobster stuck in them until they starved or ate the smaller lobster.
I asked my uncle about it later.
Floats lost in a storm, floats cut, etc.
There must have been thousands of them. Killing thousands of lobster.
Why doesnt Fisheries insist that everyone bring their broken traps back in to be counted?
He shrugged, too much paperwork. Even though EVERYONE was aware of the problem.
That was almost 40 years ago and I saw the East coast Dept of Fisheries is Finally cleaning up “Ghost Traps”.
A $3 million dollar budget when a simple audit of traps at the beginning and end of the season would suffice.
Our tax dollars at work.