Over 50,000 angling licenses are sold in Nova Scotia every year, said a story in a provincial newspaper on opening day of the fishing season.

I assume that like me, most of those 50,000 anglers were ready to go fishing by the time the first day dawned. There was a problem, however. Some of us couldn’t go fishing on opening day even if we had wanted to; simply because we couldn’t buy a license.

At least I couldn’t without driving some distance, and I assume other anglers were in the same situation. The day before the season opened, I tried to purchase a fishing license at four different vendors in Kings County and was told the same story by all of them – that the Department of Fisheries failed to send them the licenses.

One of the most popular department stores in the Annapolis Valley was sold out of licenses well before the season opened; they told me Fisheries had short-changed them, hadn’t sent the usual quota of fishing licenses and the store couldn’t meet the demand. On top of that, all they received was the licenses and no angling handbooks. Five days after the season opened this store received another package of licenses and again no handbooks accompanied them.

After making a few calls I concluded the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture had somehow slipped up when it came to getting angling licenses out to some areas in a timely manner, either shipping them late to retailers – as was the case with one vendor I called – or neglecting to send them at all. Besides the department store mentioned above, another vendor also said he received far fewer licenses than usual and couldn’t supply the usual demand.

Now, more than a few anglers I talked to were disgruntled with this situation and were quick to blame Fisheries. Three of the stores I contacted, the vendors who hadn’t received their usual supply of fishing licenses, blamed Fisheries also, telling me the Department failed to send them their usual supply.

I commiserate with anglers who couldn’t buy a license and didn’t get out on opening day. I have no idea how many were in this boat, or maybe it should be not in a boat (pardon the levity) because they couldn’t get a license. At least nine vendors in my home county, who usually have fishing licenses for sale, didn’t have them in time for opening day.

However, don’t blame Fisheries entirely if you had a problem getting a license. In some cases a few vendors hadn’t received enough licenses to meet the demand but generally there was no distribution problem. The fact is that Fisheries clamped down on vendors who “might have had a bookkeeping problem” and …. well, this is a delicate situation so I have to be careful how I put it. Someone or somebody had a bookkeeping problem and as a result there were vendors that didn’t receive the fishing licenses. If some of the vendors were responsible for this happening, then they weren’t serving their clientele very well.

Anyway, it appears the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Inland Fisheries, Services Nova Scotia or whatever, definitely had the licenses available. That’s the bottom line. However, neglecting to send out angling handbooks, which are part and parcel of the angling license purchase, can’t be blamed on the vendors. Think Services Nova Scotia maybe?

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