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Going Fishing

Newcomers to Canada from China learn the ins and outs of PEI's fishing regulations so they can enjoy this recreation sport with their families

Posted: Monday 27th April 2009 13:09

The Guardian (27/04/2009)

Going Fishing
With fishing license in hand, Maoling (Michael) Jiang, and his friends Tan (Michael) Zhen, Zhen Chen (Jason) Liang and Jian (Ken) Wu, all of whom hall from China, are excited about the prospect of spending quality time with their families in the great outdoors. [Photo by Mary MacKay]

How to fish and how not to fish on Prince Edward Island have been a few of the questions increasingly on the minds of some outdoorsy newcomers from China to this Canadian province.

Coming from a country where rules regarding fishing are practically non-existent, these new arrivals to P.E.I. were, for the most part, unaware of the regulations pertaining to the local recreational fishery.

So in response, the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry, in conjunction with the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, recently presented an information session which covered topics such as the season itself, catch limits, methods of fishing and more to inform the crowd about recreational fishing regulations for trout, salmon and white perch. More than 100 newcomers, the vast majority of whom are from China, turned out for the presentation which was presented, in part, in Mandarin.

Jian (Ken) Wu, who is an avid hunter and fisher, acted as the translator for the presentation, as well as contributing to the bilingual handy fishing guide that was handed out.

“Whenever people are coming from China they are looking for something to do. Normally they have enough money for living because normally they have a good job in China. They just wanted to locate here because it’s a good location, safe for their family and a nice place to retire,” says Wu, a 34-year-old land developer who moved to P.E.I. with his wife and their two children in 2003.

Unfortunately for many new arrivals, one of the biggest challenges they face when adjusting to their new life here is boredom.

“I have many Chinese friends who are newcomers and they always say, ‘No fun. We’re just staying home.’ Normally some people go to the language school and the grocery store and then they go home. Normally in China they live in the city and every day they have lots of things to do,” Wu explains.

“Many of the newcomers coming, about 80 to 90 per cent go fishing in the summer. They love it because it is wonderful fishing here on P.E.I., but it’s different here. In China we don’t need to buy a licence or pay for the wildlife (conservation) fund. But when they come here, sometimes they don’t know, and they go fishing with no licence which is (contrary to the law) and that makes trouble.”

Unfortunately, a few people had to be charged and fined for fishing infractions, despite the fact that they had no idea they were doing something that was against regulations.

“We’re trying to prevent that. Because it’s one thing if it’s a blatant disregard for the law but it’s not a blatant disregard, it’s just that they don’t understand it,” says John Clements, chief conservation officer for the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry, who came up with the idea to offer an information session to the newcomer community. “We thought (it would be beneficial to) sit down with these folks with an interpreter and try to bring them up to speed. It’s just a preventive, proactive outreach (effort).”

In addition to a basic presentation of the rules, the audience was given information about conservation methods. The biology of the fish was also presented so the audience could understand why specific rules and regulations have been put into place.

“They gave lots of information so I now know lots about fishing and I know that P.E.I. is a very good area for fishing,” says Tan (Michael) Zhen, who through the English/Mandarin handbook discovered things like different licences are required for different species of fish.

“And this year salmon is closed so you cannot fish salmon. So sometimes the rules change,” adds Wu. “For local people, they are OK, they know the rules. Before they go fishing they check the information, but for newcomers sometimes they don’t know.”

Wu was also impressed by the laws that are in place to protect the fish populations. “In China, you can fish anything. There is nobody to protect wildlife and the animals. But here in Canada it is very good,” he says.

Although he is waiting for a bit warmer weather, Maolin (Michael) Jiang has already bought two fishing licences for him and his wife to use and enjoy this year.

“It is a sport. We enjoy wildlife . . . (and) these fish are big and easy (to catch),” smiles Jiang. Wu hopes there will be more information sessions pertaining to local recreational activities in the future. To date, some people in P.E.I.’s growing Chinese community have tried cross-country skiing and are working with a local sailing instructor to establish a class for those who want to learn this summer skill.

“Everybody here in China they were very busy, so maybe on the weekend, on Saturday they’d go for an afternoon, but here seven days a week we always have free time,” Wu says. “They need some people for training so we can learn more about local (activities). Not only fishing, like kayaking, sailing, cycling, everything that we can do. Even in the wintertime we can do things with a skidoo and ATV.”