Flouting fishing rules is not heroic civil disobedience


Letter: Flouting fishing rules is not heroic civil disobedience

FEB. 10, 2018

This past summer has been hard on anglers. No doubt the low returns, high temperatures, mid-summer drought and regulation changes have created some heated discussion.

Discourse has soured into the olfactory equivalent of a pungent expired cheese, but we mustn’t let our frustrations mount to breaking fisheries regulations. That is hardly the kind of “civil disobedience” that examples like Rosa Parks or Gandhi paint a picture of. It is not worthy of the term.

Breaking fisheries regulations, whether you agree with them or not, is called a different term: poaching.

Indeed, we could use more counting facilities to give us a stronger picture; however, we cannot begin endorsing the self-creation of our own rules willy-nilly. What happens if DFO decides that there will only be two retention tags next year? Will that be enough or should we still decide our own limits based upon what we perceive?

What about the size restriction of 63 centimetres? Should we just be allowed to make up our own rules on that as well, you know, in the name of “civil disobedience”? There is a slippery slope here that no organization should endorse during any conservation measures, no matter how frustrated we may be.

However, the Citizens Outdoor Rights Alliance (CORA) has just made that threat, in the name of “civil disobedience.” Not exactly what H.D. Thoreau had in mind. Perhaps, since there is such disagreement on whether the shutdown of retention was necessary, or may be necessary in the future, we should spend half this much energy on fundraising and lobbying for new counting facilities on our rivers to settle the issue. I am inclined to think funding groups like Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation might pay some attention to that.

CORA is putting together meetings to discuss how to combat the growth and implementation of catch and release. This is fine, everyone should have a voice, but I fear that this is unfortunately playing into the hands of an industry that would threaten wild salmon. Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne, who evidently has the honour of speaking at the event, must be very pleased that this is taking considerable wind from the anglers. After all, they can be so pesky about things such as environmental assessment processes and certain aquaculture projects. He is expertly using this situation to feign interest in Atlantic salmon as he welcomes an aquaculture company that could cause harm to the already threatened south coast salmon.

I wonder how Minister Byrne will dance around the civil disobedience murmurs coming from the crowd. I wrote in late 2017 that if we can’t unite as anglers this coming year, we will fall. This is becoming too accurate to brag about.

Final thought: perhaps Sea Watch should be lobbying for increased inland fisheries enforcement capacity in anticipation.   

Colin Murray

Steady Brook