Anglers are tired of cleaning up after other people and say the province needs to put bigger fines in place.
Newfoundland is world renown for some of the best fishing on the planet, however, for one man who has seen some of the worst environmental conditions on the planet he believes it’s time for action.
For 27-year-old Taro Foley-Tanaka, fishing within urban areas of St. John’s is something he has been doing since he was 10 and began visiting Newfoundland. Now living in the province full-time, Foley-Tanaka, who grew up in Tokyo, says he has seen some disturbing signs and doesn’t want Newfoundland to suffer the same fate.
“I’ve seen how bad things can get so I guess I don’t ever want to see that happen here,” he said.
“I clean up after people because it truly hurts me to see a beautiful location littered with evidence that someone disrespectful has been there before. The province needs to start heavily fining people who are caught littering, and try to break down the stigma that reporting someone for littering isn’t being a rat.”
Vince Sharpe has been fishing Newfoundland waters since he was four years old. Now 33, Sharpe says he has ideas of his own on how the province can cut down on residents dumping waste in waterways and forests, and how it could pay off for good samaritans.
“What the province should do is educate people on how much damage litter does to our land and rivers, and also give out an incentives to people who are cleaning up,” Sharpe said. “One could be a tax break on buying a small game, or big game, or salmon licence because they’re helping clean up the environment.”
Even the most photogenic, peaceful rivers on the island have become dumping grounds. In most cases it’s left behind by other anglers, hunters, hikers and campers. Sharpe says there is some consistency in what he finds along the banks and in the water.
“About five years ago I really got into cleaning our rivers and helping out,” Sharpe said.
“The most common thing is Tim Hortons cups, beer cans and bottles, pop cans, and then fishing line which is brutal.”
When it comes to fishing in rivers within St. John’s, like any major city, some litter can be expected. Tanaka-Foley says it’s worse than anyone can imagine.
“The worst thing I’ve seen was on Virginia River in St. John’s,” Foley-Tanaka said.
“From one pool, about seven-feet long and seven-feet wide I hauled a TV, computer terminal, about 15 plastic shopping bags, a handful of styrofoam bits, about 20 dirty needles, and several beer bottles.”
It’s getting worse each year, says Sharpe, even poachers leave their trash behind.
“The worst I’ve ever seen was an old fishing net with weights thrown in the woods, which I’m going to say was used for poaching,” he said.
“So I started a fire and burned it.”