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> Ghost Gill Net
Posted: Jun 17, 2011 - 11:15 am

Smolt Trout

Group: Newbies
Posts: 126
Member No.: 405
Joined: February 25, 2011

There was an anonymous posting under a Nugget article following the first day of the fishing season on Lake Nipissing.

Someone said they found a ghost gill net floating around and called the authorities.

I followed it up by calling North Bay Ministry of Natural Resources enforcement supervisor Mike Regis.

He said MNR officers worked with Ontario Provincial Police to retrieve the net, which was almost 300 metres long. It had no anchors and no markings, which are required by the Nipissing First Nation for certified commercial fish harvesters.

Regis said several fish were released live, adding that they didn't know for sure how long it had been adrift. If he was to guess, though, it may have been in the water two or three weeks based on the early stages of algae growth on the twine and floats.

That timeframe puts the net being set sometime before the spring spawn moratorium was lifted May 10.

He said there were possibly 60 fish in the net, although only about six walleye, a couple pike and a couple bass. The rest were suckers and herring.

Regis said they didn't get any other calls about gill nets or gill netting, other than the two Nipissing members caught violating their community's moratorium near Lonely Island of the south shore. It was reported by The Nugget in late April.

"It's been quiet in that regard this spring," Regis said.

Clayton Goulais, who co-ordinates enforcement of Nipissing First Nation's natural resources laws, said it's odd that the net didn't have anchors attached.

Goulais said the average harvest last year for a 450-metre net set overnight was 42 walleye.

"Some fishermen are good, there are lots who are not," he said, describing how experienced gill netters know when, where and how deep to go based on water temperature and past success or failure.

He said 80 walleye in one very large net would be a "big catch."

For those who question the native community's method of using sentencing circles to deal with non-compliant harvesters, Goulais noted that none of the nine fishermen caught in 2010 and 2009 has broken the moratorium again.

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