Friday, August 26, 2016

Make sure you know the rules before Fishing with youth

This is a reply to the incident that happened at Owen Sound & it sounds like if they are actively involved in the fishing you are ok but there will be people out there that have the lines out & the kids will never get to touch the rods, they are in the boat so the parents have a better chance because of the extra lines to catch fish. My kids were bought fishing Rods, Reels & tackle boxes for their 2nd birthday & my grand daughters were too so we need to do what we can legally to get them into fishing but there is a grey area here that people need to watch.
Tight Lines Richard

Thank you for the opportunity to dispel the misinformation regarding sport fishing with children.
I’ve collected email addresses from a few different sources to get as many receiving the same message as possible.
Please feel free to forward this email to members of your club (or other individuals seeking answers on this topic) but I ask that you remove the email addresses of this original group to avoid unsolicited emails.  You are welcome to include my email address and full contact information should anyone wish to follow up with me directly.

I’m attempting to answer questions (and potential follow-up questions) from everybody in one note so I will attempt to be as concise as possible to keep the length reasonable.

First the definition:
angling means fishing with a line that is held in the hand or attached to a rod that is held in the hand or closely attended.

As I’m sure everyone is aware, individuals who are deemed licence holders are entitled to be angling with as many rods as are permitted under the Ontario Fishery Regulations for the waters where they are fishing (children would fall into this category).

To be ‘angling’ does not require an individual to be proficient in all of the tasks associated with the activity (tying on a lure, casting, setting the hook, retrieving a fish, netting/landing a fish) however they must be holding in hand or closely attending the rods for which they are responsible.  This implies being active participants in ‘fishing’, regardless of their level of skill or experience and is immaterial of the fishing technique or the level of assistance required or provided by others. 

As an extension to the above and more directly applicable to the current events that have lead us here; a child is not legally obligated, nor expected, to operate downriggers when ‘downrigging’ but must be able to participate in at least some way to be considered angling.  In absence of any participation, they simply aren’t angling.  Therefore whoever is actively tending that rod, in addition to what they would call their own, may be tending more lines than permitted.  The very real example during the Salmon Spectacular last year where ‘dad’ stated one line is his, the other belonged to his infant, and the other to his 2 year old child is very clearly a man fishing with 3 lines.  As children age, they learn skills at different rates so it is prudent for the officer to ask questions about a young person’s ability to participate in angling.  If they can’t explain or demonstrate any aspect of angling, how can the officer conclude that the child is participating in some element of angling? Another response we receive periodically from adults involves safety- not allowing a child to move around a boat or reel in a line.  If a parent will not allow a child near a rod or to reel in a line that doesn’t even have a fish on it then clearly there is no opportunity for that young person to engage in angling.

I am the reporting manager for all marine (Great Lake) Conservation Officers on Lake Superior, Georgian Bay and Lake Huron and I can tell you that we are not out for parents/grandparents/or anyone else assisting a young person who wants to go fishing.  Angling is something we actively encourage with our youth and this type of charge would not be supported without extreme circumstances and a great deal of explanation articulated by the officer. 

As I understand, there is a derby rule that during the Salmon Spectacular everyone in the boat must be registered for the derby and there is a ‘Family Pass’ to help promote this very same principle of engaging our youth.  I suspect it might also be to ease the financial burden for those passing on such an amazing pastime to their kids and extended family.  However there are those that see the Family Pass as an opportunity, defending their use of extra lines to Conservation Officers by stating that because they purchased a family pass they have bought that right in the name of an infant registered for the derby that happens to be riding in the boat.  This clearly is outside the definition of angling described above and as event organizers I’m confident you would not endorse.    

Some of the questions intentionally not addressed in this email are in relation to specific details of the events last week.  Even though a charge was not laid, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss those private details.  I can assure you it fell into the circumstances described above and the Conservation Officer chose to use his discretion to educate the individual on the responsibilities of a young person tending a line and of an older person who may be required to assist. 

On a personal note, it disturbs me to read the amount of antagonism I’ve seen in the past few days.  Conservation Officers live and work in these communities.  I can’t think of one exception when I say we all love to hunt and fish.  Many of us belong to clubs in our own area and I suspect there are some within the ranks of your clubs that may want to be, or once wished to be, a Conservation Officer.  We are also for the most part parents who enjoy taking our own kids out fishing, hunting, and to appreciate and cherish the amazing natural resources we are so fortunate to have at our doorstep.  Perhaps it is just a sign of the times when faceless emails and online posts can be made without giving any thought but it is for this reason that I look to you as leaders in your own right to disseminate the message above to a broader audience (I direct these comments to you because you have an organized network, not because I believe the animosity is rooted within your clubs).  Working in enforcement will never win the hearts of everyone, but if you or your club representatives wish to discuss how to close that disparity between resource users and our officers I would welcome that conversation.  I’m more than willing share information on workload, how I plan officer time in our annual plans, or any other aspect of enforcement work as it relates to Conservation Officers.

S/Sgt Randy Tippin
Manager - Northern Marine Enforcement Unit

Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Northport School Salmon release day Saugeen River April 30 2016

Lots of Happy Students & Parents helping with the Chinook Salmon release: 
Images by C kerry JARVIS