CBC - Newfoundland
Charge the anglers, says Salmonid Association after Dildo derby catch
Conservation group says annual event is bad for fish stocks
March 2, 2016
A group that works to preserve salmon stocks in the province is calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to charge anglers who pulled salmon from Dildo Pond during a recent fishing derby.
Sean Vardy, president of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, told CBC News on Tuesday that it doesn't matter whether or not the anglers meant to catch a salmon.
"The problem with keeping a fish now, and arguing about the species, and being unable to determine what it was sets a very dangerous precedent for the summer coming — and future summers after this," said Vardy.
"Our enforcement folks and inland fisheries have a challenging enough job as it is now to protect our rivers the way they are. This is a dangerous road we don't want to go down."
It's the latest chapter in a controversy that's dragged on since Valentine's Day.
That's when angler Owen White pulled a 5.6 pound fish from Dildo Pond in an annual derby sponsored by Buy & Sell Magazine.
The fish, the largest caught in the 2016 derby, was ruled to be a salmon after DNA testing in a federal lab.
DFO is also testing two other large fish caught in the derby, whose rules say only brown or brook trout can qualify for prizes.
Contest organizers are polling derby participants to ask if they would agree to opening up the contest to all fish caught.
"I think it would set a very bad precedent to allow an illegal fish to win one of the $30,000 prizes," said Vardy.
"It's 100 per cent illegal to catch salmon this time of year ... I'm not sure why charges haven't been laid yet in this situation. I've contacted DFO on numerous occasions and have yet to get a response."
Mass fishing bad for the stocks
Organizers have said they had no idea there were salmon in the pond.
Owen White said he tried to throw his fish back after it was logged in the contest but organizers stopped him.
The Salmonid Association disagrees with the entire fishing derby premise.