Around 18 kilograms of rotting fish were found in an abandoned gill net on Manitoulin Island — and the province wants to know who is responsible.

A Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry officer received a complaint earlier this month about the island's west shoreline of Lake Wolsey. 

When the officer attended on Aug. 8, he found an abandoned net with 40 pounds of rotting fish. That included walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, common carp, white sucker and brown bullhead catfish.

Damage to lake for future generations

In cases like this, the ministry says the fish are disposed of since they're not suitable for human consumption.

It's illegal to use a gill net for fishing in Ontario unless you have a license to do so. If you abandon the net, you're causing major damage to the environment, according to Dave Scarlett, the MNRF area enforcement manager for Sudbury.

"For future years, when spawning season comes along, there's going to be less walleye, yellow perch and bass for future generations to enjoy," says Scarlett. 

Public can help untangle case

Now, the MNRF is asking for the public's help to identify the person or people responsible for abandoning the gill net.

Scarlett says his biggest concern is that the person who's responsible has more unchecked nets out there, and the number of rotting fish is rising.

"The natural resources of the province is something we all cherish, and when people do these sorts of things that are illegal, it's just not right," he says.

If you have any information, contact the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-847-7667. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).​

with files from Samantha Samson