DFO investigates salmon poaching
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans have launched an investigation into an individual suspected of poaching salmon in the Ladle Cove area.
“There was actually two nets spotted a day or so before,” said Oake. “The operation started on June 11. Two Sea Watch Guardians were dropped in the area, and they walked out to a point where they could watch one of the nets, the other net had been removed by the time the operation had started. We don’t know if it was removed from the water or moved to another area but one of the nets was gone.”
According to Oake, the Guardians stayed to monitor the nets from 2:30 a.m.- 9 a.m. in hopes of catching the culprit, but gave up on that prospect before too much damage was done.
“No one came to tend to the net so the decision was made to take the net from the water because we didn’t know how many salmon or how much fish the net was apprehending.”
While it was unclear how many salmon the net was swallowing up, it was bearing fish when it was hauled from the water.
“At that time the net was taken from the water and it was found to have seven salmon in it. The guardians took up the net and one of the salmon sank to the bottom, so we ended up seizing six salmon,” said Oake.
While no charges have been laid, there is a focus in the investigation.
“The net was seized, and we have enough evidence now that we have a person identified to further investigate and there are charges pending in the case,” he said.
The nets were illegal, said Oake, but the intention is unclear at this point in the investigation.
“There are bait nets that are supposed to be set six feet below the surface, and that will really reduce the amount of bycatch of salmon because they swim on the surface. Right now, at this time of the year, there are no nets that are supposed to be set at the surface. So, we knew there was something wrong once those nets were spotted on the surface, whether they were intentionally set salmon nets or they were bait nets that were set improperly. This was actually a bait net that was set improperly.”
According to Oake, it’s a prime time of the season to see a lot of salmon on the move.
“I can’t say for sure what the person was targeting, but to set a net like that, chances are you’re going to intercept quite a few salmon this time of the year. There are actually two things now — you have the fresh salmon coming in from the ocean to go to the rivers to spawn, and we have last year’s salmon just leaving the rivers and coming out for a summer at sea. So, there are two different groups of salmon that are around our coast right now.”
There is broad range of penalties for offenders depending on the severity of the offence or how many times a person has been charged for illegal catching. The penalties range in everything from fines, seizure of equipment, and the banning from certain areas where an individual could repeat the offence.
“Also, if it’s a commercial fisherman they could put in license sanctions as a penalty. Judges are getting very imaginative in the penalties to show that it’s being taken seriously. We had a person last year barred for life from recreational fishing, and that was for netting a salmon river,” said Oake.
According to Oake, the poaching of salmon has been a problem in the past in the area. Four people were apprehended on Thursday at Barry’s Brook for illegally catching salmon.
“They were dipping salmon with dip-net in that brook. There are four persons, and the investigation is in its preliminary stages. Charges are pending.”