Flooded-out farmer needs permit to remove fish
Bureaucrats have added insult to injury for a corn farmer south of Montreal whose fields have been damaged by near-record flooding.
Martin Reid says he's been forced to buy a fishing licence to remove carp that are swimming in a metre of water on his flooded-out fields.
He says he bought the permit to avoid the problems he faced the last time he was forced to remove fish from his flooded farmland. In 1993, Reid was fined $1,000 for illegal fishing.
"My father and I ... were charged by Fisheries and Oceans Canada," Reid recalled. "We were jointly responsible for having caused the death of fish for reasons other than sport fishing."
Reid says the fine will jump to $100,000 if he's cited a second time.
He's under strict orders to safeguard the lives of the carp once he begins to expel them.
"We have to collect all of them, and we have to fish both sexes, that's what (the permit) says," Reid explained.
"I have to transport them so as not to damage them, by containers with water inside. If some of them die, I have to bury them."
What's more, his permit expires in two weeks even though floodwaters have yet to recede.
A spokesman for the provincial natural resources department defended Ottawa's decision.
"The idea is to help farmers," said Jean-Philippe Detolle. "The licence was issued to reassure them they won't be fined."
Quebec's wildlife minister, Serge Simard, also defended the decision to fine Reid and his father during the 1993 flood.
"He was pumping water," said the minister. "The fish passed through the pumps and came out in pieces. The neighbours complained because it was contaminating the environment."
Reid, a third-generation farmer, says the government's demands are unacceptable, especially given the severe crop damage that he has yet to fully assess.
"If we wanted to challenge it we would have to sue the federal government and pay lawyers," he said.
"The legal process could drag on for five years."