A phone call to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) tip line in late January resulted in a slew of guilty pleas in Picton’s provincial offences court on Friday.
Harold Cooper, Peter Quick and William Quick plead guilty to a number of commercial fishing offences and land use offences through their counsel, Roger Dinner.
The court heard on Friday that conservation officer Jeff Fabian was conducting a uniformed patrol on the Bay of Quinte in the area east of Indian Island between Trenton and Carrying Place and was investigating a report of commercial fishing nets not being properly marked for safety.
Fabian and conservation officer Mark Bailie discovered six holes cut in sets of two and the next day contacted the MNRF’s fisheries unit to determine if there were any commercial licenses for that location.
It was discovered by staff that area was grounds for William Quick as well as Peter Quick and Harold Cooper and that the area had last been fished legally in early December 2017 with a handful of eight-foot hoop nets.
There had been no issue of a commercial fishing licence in 2018.
Staff cut holes in the ice and used an underwater camera to determine there were two operating hoop nets set at locations under the ice and there were several dead fish in different states of decay.
Officers also collected a black bag of household garbage.
During the investigation, Fabian and Baillie collected statements from Peter Quick, William Quick and Copper who confirmed the nets were theirs and they had been set since September 2017.
The court heard the nets had been lifted on two occasions but no daily catch report was completed as the fish were discarded.
The trio never attempted to gain a commercial fishing licence in 2018.
Peter Quick confirmed the black bag of garbage at the location belonged to him.
On behalf of his clients, Dinner told the court the men tired to access the area but it had frozen over and it became unsafe for the men to gain access to the hoop nets.
Justice Ernie Parsons said generally a lake doesn’t freeze over night and there must have been a time when the nets could have been removed before the ice had set in.
Cooper pled guilty to a single count of fishing without a commercial licence while Peter Quick pled guilty to five violations of the Ontario Fisheries Regulations including licensing infractions, not properly labelling commercial fishing gear, allowing meat fit for human consumption to spoil as well as a violation of the public lands act for disposing of household garbage on the ice.
William Quick also plead guilty to four similar violations of Ontario Fisheries Regulations.
The matter was adjourned to March 1, 2019 when sentencing is expected to take place.