Bill Hilts Jr. Sundays ~ All about the outdoors
Note: Hilts is Niagara County's Outdoor Sports Specialist
SUNDAY JULY 8 2012
More Problems Surface from Canada
As if the recent push by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wasn’t enough at making our life a bit more frustrating by requiring all boaters to call into their Telephone Reporting Centre from the location as which they enter Canadian waters – no matter where that is – the latest mandate involves the use of paper navigational charts on your boat when fishing in the waters in the Province of Ontario.
Apparently, boaters in both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have been pulled over by members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Marine Unit and questioned them on boating knowledge in a particular area. If they do not have paper navigational charts – whether or not they have a working Global Positioning System (GPS) installed on the boat – and if they are unfamiliar with the waters they are fishing they are getting hit with a $250 fine.
According to the Nautical Regulations, “the master and owner of a ship less than 100 tons are not required to have on board the charts, documents and publications referred to if the person in charge of navigation has sufficient knowledge of … the location and character of charted shipping routes; lights, buoys and marks ;navigational hazards; the prevailing navigational conditions.”
It sounds like those that have faced these situations already insist that it has been a judgment call on the part of the authorities. And even if you do have a working GPS, the OPP attitude has been: "What if it goes down? What if the GPS is not functioning?" Sounds like just too many what-ifs … and another way to create a revenue stream for the government. It’s another way to impose additional restrictions on the recreational boater. And it’s another reason just to stay home in New York or U. S. waters.
If we can’t get some help from our Federal representatives in Washington, it might be time to reciprocate. These same restrictions aren’t being imposed on Canadians meandering over into New York waters. It shouldn’t be just one way. That might be another way to get action.
It reminds me of the push by the Niagara River Anglers Association to open up the eyes of the leaders of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources back in the 1980s. When the province doubled their fishing license fees for non-residents, the NRAA initiated a boycott of sorts. I can still remember the look on the faces of the OMNR representatives when we plopped down 2,000 non-resident Ontario fishing licenses – just from the NRAA – all with little personal notes saying that they wouldn’t be spending time in Canada for any fishing trips any time soon and how upset they were at the fee hike. The end result was a change in philosophy by the OMNR folks. They created a conservation license and they also initiated a resident fishing license to help offset some of the costs associated with fisheries management. It might be time to do something like that once again.
Getting back to the issue posed by the CBSA requiring all boats that must call upon entry into Canada, it’s raising some serious questions from the charter boat industry, the sailing community and recreational boating in general. The process isn’t a simple one. Approximately 20 minutes worth of information and questions must be laid out before you can go on your way into foreign waters. That’s only if U.S. citizens are on board. It’s much more involved if foreign nationals are onboard.
Just this week, a conference call took place between New York’s Division of Tourism, representatives in England and tourism representatives from the Greater Niagara Region and the Catskills Region about bringing more anglers over from the United Kingdom to enjoy our fishing and outdoor resources. Unless charter captains want to deal with proceeding directly to a designated marine telephone reporting site and place a call to the TRC in order to obtain CBSA clearance –who knows how long all that will take – we just ruled out places like Devil’s Hole or much of the Niagara River. No more motoring down the middle of the river to get to destinations if you don’t want to be in violation. And that means places like Lewiston and Youngstown will be losing out.
Few people realize that just about the entire West River around Grand Island is in Canadian waters.
Think about the effect it will have on things like the Level Regatta in Youngstown. Yes, it’s starting to hit the pocket book and change the way we’ve come to think. And for what really? Is someone crossing over the invisible boundary in a boat enjoying themselves a threat to Canada’s security? We were told last year by Customs and Immigration that it wasn't going to be an issue here. What changed?
Hat tip to Mark Daul
I am boycotting Canada until this is fixed.