Released on April 21, 2015
An undercover investigation by the Ministry of Environment to stop an illegal fish trafficking ring in northern Saskatchewan has netted 15 charges under Saskatchewan’s Outfitter and Guide Regulations and The Fisheries Act and Regulations, and more than $50,000 in fines.
The charges were laid by the ministry after information was received in 2011 relating to illegal outfitting and the abuse of walleye stocks in the Buffalo Narrows area. The abuse was occurring on a large scale and had the potential to affect the local walleye population.
Undercover officers determined that illegal outfitting was taking place without an outfitters’ licence. The officers were also approached by subsistence fishermen who sold fish to them illegally.
“The Government of Saskatchewan takes illegal activity such as this very seriously,” Ministry of Environment Compliance and Field Services Enforcement Director Ken Aube said. “Left unchecked, entire fish populations can be decimated such as what happened to walleye populations at Big Peter Pond Lake several years ago. This impacts sport anglers, subsistence fishermen and commercial fishermen, who rely on the lake fishery to make a living.”
In May 2014, the first of four men charged in connection with the case – Leon Morin of Buffalo Narrows – was convicted of four counts of unlawful marketing of fish caught by both commercial fishing and subsistence fishing, and fined a total of $19,360. He was also handed a two year commercial fishing licence prohibition and a two year probation during which time he cannot aid or assist anyone who is commercial fishing.
The other three men were recently fined a total of $31,460 in Buffalo Narrows provincial court after being found guilty of 11 charges.
Richard Hansen of Buffalo Narrows was convicted of one count of unlawful outfitting, two counts of unlawful marketing of fish caught by subsistence fishing, one count of providing subsistence fish to someone other than a family member, and one count of unlawfully setting a gill net. He was fined a total of $18,510.
Maurice Billette of Dillon was convicted of four counts of unlawfully marketing fish caught by subsistence fishing and was fined a total of $11,200.
Danny Billette of Dillon was convicted of two counts of unlawfully marketing fish caught by subsistence fishing and was fined a total of $1,750.
Fish may be purchased for personal consumption from a licensed commercial fisher or a fish dealer. By law, vendors have to provide a receipt that includes the seller’s name, address and licence number, the water body where the fish were caught, the fish species and the form in which it was purchased (e.g. round, dressed or filleted), the quantity and sale price of the fish and the date of purchase.
Anyone approached to buy fish who believes the sale is not legal is encouraged to contact the nearest Ministry of Environment office, the province’s toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-667-7561 or #5555 for SaskTel cell phone subscribers, or report a violation online at www.saskatchewan.ca/conservation. Callers may be eligible for cash rewards through the SaskTip Reward Program.
For more information, contact: