Casselman angles for increased ice fishing surveillance

The village of Casselman, Ont., wants to clean up the act of South Nation River ice fishers this season after some were photographed last winter burning their shacks.

The local council has asked the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, which is responsible for fishing regulations, to tighten its surveillance in the area.

"From our side, we are ready to take action" said Mayor Daniel Lafleur in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.

"But the authorities should also respond to our requests."

Abandoned shack found

Depending on conditions, as many as 30 shacks can be found on the ice where the Castor River flows into the South Nation.

In February, photos emerged of some ice fishers setting their shacks on fire and then leaving the debris behind. In 2017, an abandoned cabin was also found on an island north of the area. 

According to the mayor, abandoned or destroyed shacks are problematic for the community of 4,000.

We take [water from the river] to filter it and offer it to our citizens," the mayor said.  "It's pollution, that's what these people have done."

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press

'Our river is our water'

Others are unhappy that some shack owners are giving all ice fishers a bad reputation.

Sylvain Quenneville, an avid fisherman who lives along the river, said there's two types of people out on the ice.

"There are some who will pay close attention to nature. They will pick everything up," said Quenneville, a farmer by trade.

"There are others who leave everything behind. They will make a fire [but] they will leave their logs."

While Lafleur doesn't want to discourage ice fishing — something he considers a great family activity — he thinks more conservation officers are needed. 

He hopes stricter regulation enforcement will ensure both fishing sustainability and clean water for the town, roughly 60 kilometres east of downtown Ottawa.

"Be proud of our river," Lafleur said. "Our river is our water."