Abuse of Salmon - Poaching, Bait, Abuse, and Wasteful Practices
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It is not a good time to be a salmon!
Within Ontario, disturbing, illegal, and unethical practices take place on many of our local Great Lakes tributaries during the fall salmon migration. Salmon that migrate up the tributaries in search of their spawning grounds run a gauntlet of obstacles from low water conditions, dams, obstructions, ethical anglers, unethical anglers, snaggers, poachers, and illegal harvest.
Salmon and/or salmon roe (eggs) are very commonly illegally captured or harvested (poached), to be used as bait to catch more salmon, trout, and other fish species. It is also harvested in the same manner for human consumption. The remainder of the edible fish, flesh bones, and entrails is very often discarded and wasted.
There are a number of issues surrounding these practices:
Toxicity - The eggs of fish are classified as being unfit for human consumption due to toxicity - contaminated by heavy metals, mercury, PCB's, etc. An individual's long-term health may be compromised by consuming these toxins, yet it is heavily consumed by many. The retention of eggs for consumption should be regulated as to not have future impacts on public health.
The Cost of Harvesting Bait - License fees paid by anglers only cover 2/3 of Ontario's fishery's budget. 1/3 of the costs are covered by general funds - tax payers are paying for stocking initiatives that support wasteful and unethical practices of anglers and poachers. This publicly funded resource is being deeply abused and wasted.
Poor Behavior Keeping Ethical Anglers Away - Many anglers have sworn off fishing for Great Lakes salmon due to the behaviors and activities witnessed on the water. Ontario's lack of enforcement for fisheries offenses, a lack of education on ethical angling practices, and laws that support poor behavior are spoiling our resources and opportunities for others anglers.
Waste and Abuse of Resources - The wasting of flesh of game animals is completely legal and fully within an angler’s rights as long as the fish is considered non-edible as dictated by the Guide to Eating Ontario Fish, a provincially published resource. Our natural resources can be exploited and wasted as long as they are within the guidelines of consumption. Example - catching 5 salmon in an area that has these fish listed as non-edible, they can be then discarded and the angler can then proceed again the next day to do the same, then again, and again, every day for the year. If conditions allow an angler could catch then discard and waste 1,825 fish in a year.
Under Reported & Under Enforced - Recent updates to the consumption tables dictate now that the majority of salmon are edible for non-sensitive populations making the spoiling of flesh in most cases completely illegal. Sensitive groups include women of childbearing age and children. Yet, the practice of discarding edible flesh is still rampant, not reported by observers and anglers, and nearly impossible to enforce due to low MNRF Conservation Officer numbers, resources, and funding.
I greatly oppose these practices and activities that take place on Great Lakes tributaries and find the regulations surrounding this practice antiquated, and the level of enforcement to be far less than adequate.
I demand immediate review and changes to the regulation that supports these behaviors and protects individuals who practice these unethical behaviors.
Also, I demand an adequate number of MNRF Conservation officers to be hired to patrol and protect out natural resources.
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