A nearly two-year, undercover operation helped catch two poachers, netted $15,500 in fines and cracked down on ‘trafficking of fish,’ the Saskatchewan government says.
In a release Friday, the Ministry of Environment addressed questions about the time and energy it put into catching Indigenous fishermen from Canoe Narrows, about 400 kilometres north of Saskatoon.
Donald Iron, 60, and Richard Desjardin, 63, were fined in provincial court last week after they illegally sold more than 200 walleye without a licence.
Both men are band members of Canoe Lake First Nation.
“In the 1970s and ‘80s, walleye populations in Canoe Lake crashed and took years to recover,” the government’s release says.
“As a result, extra efforts were taken to curb the unlawful trafficking of fish from Canoe Lake.”
Iron was fined a total of $1,080 after being found guilty of three counts of illegally selling fish and three counts of selling fish without a licence.
Desjardin pleaded guilty to three counts of marketing fish without a licence, and single counts of commercial fishing without a licence, fishing in a close area and obstruction
He was fined $14,500 and his truck forfeited to the Crown.
The release describes both men as targets of an undercover operation after the ministry received complaints that two men were illegally selling fish.
“Undercover officers were able to purchase fish from both individuals, with one selling a significant amount more than the other.”
The release said they were guilty of taking fish from an area of Canoe Lake that has been closed for 20 years to protect the walleye spawning ground – with what the release says was the full support of Canoe Lake First Nation.
Canoe Lake Chief Francis Iron couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Charges against two alleged accomplices were stayed, the release says.