CORNER BROOK — A veteran angler avoided a fishing prohibition in court Tuesday, despite a judge’s cynicism that his erroneous tagging of a salmon was an honest mistake.
John Whelan of Conception Bay South was charged with breaching angling regulations with respect to tagging salmon June 21. As he was exiting Big Falls at about 10 p.m., he was approached by fish guardians and asked if he had caught any salmon. He said he did not. When the guardians asked to search his pack, he admitted he had one salmon. It had a tag placed on it that was not for that particular time period. According to the court documents, he told the guardians he was a 20-year angling veteran, and made an honest mistake.
Whelan had no prior record of fishing or criminal offences, and pleaded guilty to the charge. Crown attorney Trina Simms asked for a $200 fine and a one-year fishing prohibition. The already seized salmon would be forfeited, but she recommended his rod and reel be returned.
Defense counsel Adam Baker suggested a $100 fine was more appropriate, and asked for no, or a shorter, fishing prohibition.
Provincial court Judge Wayne Gorman began with a harsh criticism of Whelan’s behaviour that night. He said he misled officers, making the judge doubt that his actions were a “honest mistake.”
The judge said the tagging of salmon is important in maintaining the species, and actions such as this allows people to take more than their permitted catch.
He imposed the $200 fine.