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All fish in public lakes are public
A group of eight people went to Corbett Lake in mid-February and were approached by one of the new owners who came out and told us the lake was a private lake. We told him we knew better and then he said we trespassed to get to it. We showed him that we did not, and then he said he owned the fish. He had us there. He may have and likely did own the fish until he put them in a public lake. We asked him what legal permit gave him the right to put the fish there in the first place but we didn’t get an answer.
He left very upset and understandably so, but most were releasing the fish they caught. The fishing regulations allow people to take five fish a day from Corbett Lake, one of which can be over 50 centimetres. Eight people left with three fish. The rest were returned to the lake. A private fish in a public lake becomes a public fish.
The fish and wildlife branch stepped back from its obligation to stock the lake with public fish and allowed a private individual to stock the lake. It always was and still is a public lake. Blocking public access is the only tool they have for allowing exclusive use of a public resource. That is a serious breach of trust in my mind. We trust the elected government to look after our resources, not give them away.
The previous owner of the lodge there never refused me access. He always said, “Come up and go fishing whenever you like, mate.”
The government seems to think that people are just going to walk away from some of their best fishing holes and let private enterprise take them over. They allow private enterprise to think that they own a public resource. They create hard feeling between friends and neighbours and seem to be proud of it.
Then the police and the conservation officers showed up at my house in town after we quit fishing and told us that Corbett was a private lake. The RCMP are not well versed when environmental issues like this arise, but the issue needs resolve and giving away our lakes is not the answer. Telling us the lake is private is also unacceptable. We were very upset with the situation and they can attest to that.
The conservation officers suggested we should hold off going back there fishing until they decided if we could or not. They are part of the problem, not part of a solution. They know very well it is a public lake. They are the messenger that tells us by their words and actions that the government has no will to keep public lakes and public access for the public. They could have been truthful right there and said that all lakes are public. But no, here is what they did:
Just to be spiteful and vindictive, the conservation officer issued a ticket charging one of the anglers with trespassing on Douglas Lake property last year. He was with an authorized person at the time and the Trespass Act reads:
Defences to trespass
4.1 A person may not be convicted of an offence under section 4 in relation to premises if the person’s action or inaction, as applicable to the offence, was with (a) the consent of an occupier of the premises or an authorized person.
The conservation officer knew that. A court case costs the public about ten thousand dollars.
He was much more concerned about the welfare of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company and made that obvious and added heat to an already heated debate. The ticket could have been written any time in the last four months if it needed to be written. How very unprofessional. What next?
Thank you for printing this very important bit of information so the public can start to see what is in store for them and their grandchildren with the attitude of the government and the people they hire to protect our resources. Let’s pray for a change of attitude or maybe demand it — whichever works.