Province reminding people about smelt catch limits, overfishing

The P.E.I. government is reminding people about the problem of overfishing rainbow smelts on the Island and the consequences for doing so.

"Every year when the smelts start to run, we get complaints from the general public about overharvesting," said Wade MacKinnon, manager of Investigation and Enforcement for the P.E.I. Department of Justice and Public Safety.

Clarks Creek

To help with one area in particular that is a concern — Clarks Creek in Pisquid — the province has put up a sign to educate people about the catch limits and fines for overfishing.

The daily limit 60 fish per person, said MacKinnon.  A sign has also been set up at the creek in Chinese. 

"That is the area where we've had probably the least compliance, and so we thought we'd focus it," he said. 

"It's a very public area because there are times on the weekends where, at any one time, there may be 75 to 100 people there fishing. And, that happens all day long."

Impact on the future

MacKinnon noted that another area that receives complaints for overfishing is the West River. 

"Taking thousands and thousands of smelts off the spawning grounds could have an impact on the future," he said.

Anyone caught with more than the daily limit on the Island could face a fine of $275 as well as $1 for each fish caught over the limit. 

Last year, there were five convictions on P.E.I. for overfishing. And, so far this year, three people have been caught exceeding the limit with charges pending, said MacKinnon.

The signage at Clarks Creek was set up with the Hillsborough River Association and the Pisquid River watershed group.

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