Officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have seized more than 1,700 kilograms of rotten fish near Hay River, N.W.T., which is considered their biggest catch so far this year.

Gerald Fillatre, the Detachment Manager in Yellowknife for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says on July 18, officers were doing a routine aerial patrol of Great Slave Lake. The flights are not only meant to keep track of where commercial fishermen are fishing, but also to keep on eye on the areas where they're not allowed to fish. 

Fisheries officers then took out a boat and found two kilometres of abandoned net that had about 1,770 kilograms — roughly 3,900 pounds — of fish that were rotten and "not fit for human consumption." 

"We did have one non-fishery officer with us who was operating the vessel and he's not used to the smell of the fish and he didn't handle it as well as guys who deal with it all the time," Fillatre said.

Fillatre says commercial fisheries are allowed to leave nets on Great Slave Lake for a maximum of 30 hours, to ensure the fish don't degrade. 

"So if they're checked every 30 hours, fish won't degrade."

But Fillatre says the rotting fish found in these nets had clearly been there for more than 30 hours. 

The investigation is ongoing, but officers believe this incident did involve a commercial fisherman. 

The maximum fine for a violation like this is $100,000 and up to a year in jail.