….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.