Ottawa/Queen's Park



fishingI want to address an issue brought to my attention by a local fisherman who in my opinion, is being unfairly targeted by MNR conservation officers.

This local fisherman was on Owen Sound Bay on the evening of Aug 10th with his 5 1/2 year old twin boy & girl. He had two lines in the water, which of course is legal. In fact he could have had 3 lines in the water but he didn't because his daughter wasn't as interested in fishing as his son was.

While the young family was fishing, the father noticed the MNR boat watching them but didn't think much of it because he believed he was doing nothing wrong. Eventually the MNR boat pulled alongside and proceeded to tell the father that unless the 5 year old son could prove that he could bait the line & physically work the downrigger etc. that they would have to remove one of the lines from the water or face charges. To the officers credit he did not charge the father and instead issued a warning. The father, of course not wanting to be charged with his young children in the boat, pulled one of the rods/lines out of the water. He is still trying to explain to his son "Dad: why did that officer make me pull my line out of the water?"

The officer commented that he was "just doing this in the name of conservation."

I beg to differ in a couple ways. If the officer is so worried about conservation, why does he and his fellow officers ignore blatant violations committed in the past by commercial fishermen that were clearly in contrevention of a recognized fishing agreement and instead hassle a sport fisherman who is raising his young family the right way by getting them out of the house and away from the TV & computer and introducing them to the beauty of the great outdoors. Seems like very quality family time to me. Also, the CO did not seem to recognize the fact that if the father was really out to ignore conservation and "fish the bay out" he would have had 3 lines in the water. But he did not for reasons mentioned above.

Furthermore, the timing and the ridiculousness of this could not be worse with the 29th annual Salmon Spectacular about to start on Aug 26th. This very popular event is well known to be a "family oriented" 10days of fishing, entertainment and fish fry's. Furthermore, in order for an individual to be out on the water and fish during the derby it is necessary for them to have a derby ticket. Therefore, I fear that this incident could discourage a number of anglers from bringing their children out on the water for this family event. Why would anyone purchase a derby ticket for their children if they were supposedly unable to fish by "law".

What kind of message is this officer trying to send? That a young father can take his kids fishing - but sorry kids you can't touch the fishing pole unless you can do it all without dad's help. It is completely legal in Ontario for kids under the age of 18 to go fishing without a licence. Nowhere in Ontario fishing regulations does it indicate that a child must be able to bait a line etc. It's a great incentive for parents of young children to take their kids out on the water for quality and fun time together. The way it should be.

I'm sure this officer probably realizes now that he made a mistake. Was he showing off his authority in front of the young student who was with him? I don't know. But I do know that he can rectify this situation by admitting he made a mistake. People make mistakes. That is normal. But mistakes need to be corrected and move on.

Clearly that needs to happen here.

This hits home with me personally as I am about to take 2 of my grand-daughters away fishing for 3 days and I can guarantee you that grandpa will be assisting his grandkids with changing hooks, putting on bait or in any other way required. I want their first fishing experienceto be an enjoyable one. And I don't expect to have to be looking over my shoulder to see if an over-zealous CO is watching.

In closing, my advice to the young father - please take your twins out fishing again ASAP. Maybe that will help to erase the memory of the very unpleasant, unfortunate, and unnecessary experiencethey were forced to witness.

Too bad we couldn't somehow legislate more common sense in this world.

source: media release, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller


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