Poachers sell netted salmon for big bucks


Money on their minds: Poachers sell netted salmon for big bucks

Wildlife enforcement makes another bust near Gambo

By Glenn Payette, CBC News Posted: Aug 16, 2016 3:40 PM NT

Fish and Wildlife Enforcement says an increase in salmon poaching in Newfoundland and Labrador this year is driven in part by the opportunity to make money.

On Thursday night, Aug. 11, officers charged two people, and seized 54 salmon, a canoe, outboard motor, nets and other gear at Traverse Brook near Gambo.

"We've been quite busy this year," said Hayward Taylor, the chief of enforcement for the province. "The violation numbers have certainly increased."

Taylor said as of Tuesday, they had seized about 110 salmon, 76 trout, two trucks, five boats, and three all-terrain vehicles from different parts of the province.

"We have remote cameras, and devices to indicate if people are in certain areas." said Taylor. "We are sitting in the woods watching, and when there is activity, we will attempt to make an arrest,"

He said illegal netting is also up over last year, with most of it happening at night.

Profit motive

Taylor said that when it comes to netting, poachers seem to have money on their minds.

"So far this year, we have four different files where we have charged people with illegal selling of salmon. A lot of times, people who are netting are doing it for commercial purposes."

They can make quite the profit, Taylor said.

"If those people could have sold the 54 salmon [from the Traverse Brook operation] they could have gotten between $15 to $20 a salmon. It doesn't take long to add up to a significant amount of money."

Taylor said he would like to think that if no one was purchasing illegally caught salmon, then poaching would drop drastically.

"We want to send a message to the general public that it is illegal to purchase this salmon, and it is illegal to possess the salmon. And if they are caught, they are facing significant fines."

Training, equipment vs home-field advantage

Taylor admits that many poachers have the home-field advantage, but the wildlife division is always learning.

"Most of the times we are dealing with local people who are familiar with the area where they are conducting illegal activity, netting, whatever it is," said Taylor.

"The thing of it is, we've been going to these hotspots, problem areas where we have been receiving complaints, so we've been learning the areas as well."

The officers also have an infrared unit that allows them to see at night, and night-vision goggles.

"This type of equipment helps us apprehend people. But it is certainly not easy. It's challenging work, but it is rewarding work as well," said Taylor.

Taylor said the officers go through a three-week training course to learn how to work in the wilderness and how to be comfortable while doing these operations.

When it comes to catching poachers, Taylor said that sometimes it is luck, but for the most part, it is co-operation from the public. He said they have received a number of tips.

"We have a poaching line, 1-877-820-0999, you can call 24/7. That's certainly been a big help for us."