The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) held the meeting to provide information to the public about its decision to enforce Act 27 of the Fisheries Act.
In previous years, the Milton fishway has been blocked, meaning it was not operating, making it OK to fish or dip. The regulation the DFO plans to enforce means the fishway in Milton (and other fishways) can’t be blocked.
Because the fishways is operating, the DFO won’t be allowing the fishing or dipping of gaspereau within 75 feet of the fishway or roll dam.
Norm Amirault, representing the Region of Queens, talked about ownership of the fishway.
Amirault said the region wasn’t aware of its obligation to keep the fishway clean. After doing research, the region found out it is obliged to keep the fishway clear of debris.
“We have not seen any documentation that proves that we the region are the owners,” said Amirault.
This doesn’t mean the documentation does not exist, he emphasized.
Bill Wolfe, conservation and protection supervisor for Liverpool’s DFO detachment, asked people to share legal alternatives for dipping and fishing.
“What can we do to maintain fish being caught just below that 75 feet downstream?” asked Wolfe.
David Dagley, longtime secretary and member of the Queens County Fish & Game Association, went to the meeting because he’s concerned about the rule.
“I guess what we want to know is, would DFO support creating an area below the 75 feet, preferably two areas, where people could dip now that they’re displaced?” asked Dagley.
The DFO’s response was that such a decision would be in habitat’s jurisdiction, but the department suggested Dagley make an application.
According to the DFO, the fishing that’s been happening in or near the fishway is in contravention of Section 27 of the Fisheries Act.
“Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently made arrangements for the fishway to be fully operational and maintained on an annual basis effectively April 10, 2012,” said Wolfe in an earlier interview.
The department said fisheries officers will be enforcing the act’s provisions. There will be a public-education period at first, at which time people will receive warnings.
When that period’s over, the DFO said people will be charged with illegal fishing. One of the officers at the meeting said being charged means mandatory court appearance.