With many areas re-opening to fishing on June 1st, Fish and Wildlife Officers would like to remind anglers that Alberta has limits to the number of fish that can be caught and kept, and these limits are enforced. Earlier this year, Stephen Leslie Briggs pleaded guilty in Fort McMurray Provincial Court to exceeding the possession limit for fish. He also pleaded guilty to two other charges related to the way he transported the fish, which made it impossible for Fish and Wildlife Officers to immediately count them and measure their length. Briggs was sentenced to pay $8,694 in fines.
During an aerial patrol north of Fort McMurray on July 1st, 2012, officers landed their helicopter at Island Lake Lodge on Big Island Lake. Here, they encountered a group on the dock waiting for their aircraft to return to Fort McMurray. When officers asked if they had any fish and if they would produce them for inspection, Briggs gave over three bags of fillets with the skin on.
The bags were seized as the fillets were frozen together in clumps and could not be readily measured or counted. Officers thawed the fillets during the remainder of their patrol. They found that the three bags contained 22 walleye fillets of various sizes. The fillets were sent to the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch’s forensic lab for measurement and DNA analysis.
Lab findings revealed there were 11 Walleye in total, and two of those fish were less than 50 cm in length. The DNA analysis found that all 11 walleye came from the Big Island Lake population, where the retention and possession limit is 0. These were important distinctions as the accused stated there were only six walleye, and that they were caught at Gardiner Lakes, where anglers are allowed to keep one walleye over 50 cm.
Possession limits for fish are in place on many lakes to help control the number of fish that anglers take out. When an angler takes too many fish, or fish that aren’t the right size, the fish population’s ability to sustain itself is damaged. Ultimately, Fish and Wildlife Officers aim to protect and conserve our fish and wildlife resources so that future generations can enjoy them just as we do today.
Anglers are encouraged to check the regulations and learn about the rules before they go fishing. Also, any suspicious hunting or fishing activity can be reported to the 24-hour Report A Poacher hotline at 1-800-642-3800. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.