OTTAWA, Canada – Imagine going to jail for catching, keeping, and eating a few fish. That's what Keep Canada Fishing (KCF) is warning could happen in that country if a recently introduced bill is passed by Parliament.
“Once again we see the timeworn tactic by these MP’s (members of Parliament) and groups of fronting a façade which appears to promote a seemingly reasonable solution to an animal cruelty issue, while concealing the true intention of the legislation,” said Phil Morlock, government affairs chair of the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association and director of environmental affairs for Shimano.
“The implications of this bill are chilling," he added. "It is a nuclear strike against our outdoor heritage activities and threatens anyone who just wants to take their kids fishing.”
Additionally, Morlock long has warned that Canada often is used as a testing ground for anti-fishing and anti-hunting campaigns and legislation, before something similar is attempted in the United States. And, indeed, a primary supporter of Bill C-246, the "Modernizing Animal Protections Act," is the International Fund for Animal Welfare out of Yarmouth, Mass., along with the Toronto-based Animal Alliance of Canada.
B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland agrees with that assessment, especially in regard to this latest assault on sport fishing. "I fear this is a tip-of-the-iceberg kind of deal that could creep into the Unites States," he said.
KCF is leading the opposition, encouraging Canadian anglers to share their concerns with their elected representatives. But Gilliland added, "Anyone who fishes in Canada needs to know about this and contact Canadian officials to let them know of their concern. The losses to the Canadian economy from U.S. anglers not crossing the border would be huge."
The bill is being promoted as legislation to ban the importation of shark fins and the practice of shark finning in Canadian waters.
"But that's only the tip of the fin," KCF said, pointing out that one provision allows for "someone who catches a fish to face criminal prosecution for cruelty to animals.
"Even the act of baiting a hook with a worm would be considered an act of cruelty, according to the bill."
One of the more serious threats is posed by the bill's intent to take offenses against animals out of a "certain property" classification and move it to the Criminal Code dealing with offenses against persons, with the obvious result of giving animals rights similar to those of humans. Additionally, killing of an animal would be allowed only by "lawful excuse," although that is not defined in the bill.
The proposed legislation could "have the effect of criminalizing many popular sporting, agricultural, aquacultural, commercial, scientific and religious activities involving animals and violators can face up to five years in prison," KCF said in an analysis of Bill C-246.
To learn more, go to the Keep America Fishing website.