When it comes to your right to fish and hunt without being hindered, impeded or harassed in any way, the Wildlife Act is quite explicit.
The Act states, for example, that “no person shall interfere with the lawful hunting and fishing of wildlife by another person, or with any lawful activity preparatory to such hunting or fishing, with the intention of preventing or impeding hunting or fishing or the continuation of the hunting and fishing.”
If that isn’t clear enough, the Act also states that “no person shall disturb another person who in engaged in lawful hunting or fishing of wildlife or in any lawful activity preparatory to such hunting and fishing with the intention of dissuading that person from hunting or fishing or otherwise preventing the hunting or fishing.”
I mention these sections of the Wildlife Act since I recently heard of two incidents where anglers were interfered with and were bullied and forced to stop fishing. In one incident an angler fishing for striper bass on the Minas Basin came across three fishermen who claimed the beach area they were fishing was private water. “Who gave you permission to fish here?” came the hostile greeting from one of the trio. “We’re the only ones who have permission to be here.”
The angler (who by the way is an old friend I’ve known for decades) was bullied into moving farther along the beach. He had no intention, he says, of fishing anywhere near the trio of anglers and was simply exploring the beach, or as he put it, “I was looking for some new places to fish.”
The friend was told bluntly that he had no right to fish that particular section of shoreline since he didn’t have permission from the landowner. Bottom line he was made unwelcome. While no implicit verbal threats were made directly, the attitude of the anglers was aggressive and threatening.
The second incident also involved striped bass fishing and was relayed to me on the telephone. This incident was similar to the first in that an angler attempting to fish along a section of shoreline was harassed and forced to move on by other anglers.
As you can ascertain from the section of the Wildlife Act quoted above, the anglers harassing and interfering with other fishermen were acting illegally. One of the incidents was reported to the Department of Natural Resources and apparently they will take action if the harassment and bullying continues.
Besides being illegal, it was unsporting of the anglers doing the harassing, to say the least. I’m surprised it happened. First of all, everyone should know that on tidal or fresh water no one can interfere with your right to lawfully fish. While you require permission from landowners to cross privately owned property to reach the water, once you’re there you can fish anywhere. Of course if other anglers are already fishing a piece of shoreline or riverbank, then you should steer clear of them. That’s a given, an unwritten rule of angling.