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An offal stink

Small number of recreational cod fishers littering Long Pond beach with fish guts

Fish heads and other discarded cod parts line part of the beach at Long Pond next to a sign that warns of $10,000 fines for illegal dumping. The area is a popular launch site for people participating in the recreational food fishery, but some aren’t particular about where they throw the head and guts of the fish they clean offshore. Photo by Donna Perrin.

By Craig Westcott / July 28, 2023

There are few places Rene Perrin is happier than out bobbing on the waters of Conception Bay.

So, he can appreciate the pleasure felt by the recreational cod fishers who push off from the wharf outside his door and stage in Long Pond to jig a few cod when the weather turns fine in July.

But what Perrin can’t stomach is the small number of fishers who gut and carelessly toss the remains of their catch onto the beach and land wash where children and seniors often visit to take a look at the boats going to and from the harbour.

“We don’t want to be mean about it, because down here a lot of people are using this with their families, they’re coming down with their boats and launching and coming on back, but we’ve got a few people who are coming back and dumping their fish guts right on the dry land,” said Perrin. “We don’t want to be laying blame or being nasty to people, or anything like that. But what’s happening down here now is that on the little beach over on the other side (of the pond) are two or three fellows who dump their fish off on the beach and now the little kids can’t even go over there and lie in the sun.”

Some of the dumping is taking place just 20 feet from signs that warn against such practices, which carry as much as a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Perrin said he can’t seem to get anyone from the town council to address the problem. “And they’re always talking about trying to keep your town clean, and stuff like that,” Perrin said. “There’s no enforcement down here. This can’t go on.”

It’s reached the point now where the fish entrails have attracted mink.

“And mink are very destructive,” Perrin said. “They’re after getting into one of the boy’s boats here already and tearing up his lifejackets and all that stuff. It’s a common sight down here now to see a mink…. And where it’s been so warm and sunny, you’re getting the stench of the fish guts along the shore.”

Perrin said the narrow little lanes that converge on the pond are popular with dog walkers, strollers and hikers. Then there’s the tourists. “They love to come down and walk along the shore and look at the water and look at the boats and watch the fishermen clean their fish,” he said. “That’s a big thing for them.”  

Perrin said he would like to see council create a little day park for the people who visit. 

“Because it is a popular spot,” he said. “It is a high-profile recreation area.”

The area is used as a launching point for recreational boaters from all over the northeast Avalon, Perrin noted, and most of them are disposing of the fish guts properly. Many of them use a small wharf and cutting table owned by a couple of local commercial fishermen, who are kind enough to let people use it.

“But a fellow came in one day last week and he dumped the fish right in the middle of the boat launch where people launch their boats,” said Perrin.

So, he is encouraging people who use the area as a launching site for the recreational cod fishery to mind the interests of others and not dump their fish guts and waste onto the beach.

“Take it out and dump it in deep water, or out over the wharf, and not on the land wash where it’s not allowed,” he advised. “It’s illegal… We’ve got to make an effort. All we’re asking is, have some respect for the residents and the environment that you’re using.”

Perrin said the launching space is one of the few free places left to launch a boat, given there is a fee charged in Foxtrap and the yacht clubs charge for their space.

“And all that people down here are asking is just respect the area around the shoreline and keep it as relatively clean as possible and don’t stink the place out and bring rodents around,” Perrin pleaded. “That’s all we’re asking. I don’t think that’s too much. But if they keep it up, I’ll be pressuring the council and DFO (the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans) to shut off this launch.”

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