Fishermen leave 'mounds of garbage' along Detroit River, says harbourmaster

Adult diapers, fishing lures, water bottles. It’s all part of “mounds of garbage” Windsor’s harbourmaster claims sport fishermen have left behind of the banks of the Detroit River.
Although the sport fishermen leave each day, they don't always bring their trash with them, harbourmaster Peter Berry, left, says. (John Van Dusen/CBC)

Adult diapers, fishing lures, water bottles. It's all part of "mounds of garbage" Windsor's harbourmaster claims sport fishermen have left behind on the banks of the Detroit River.

Silver bass season is in full swing as the fish make their way downstream to Lake Erie. The fish have drawn thousands of out-of-town anglers to the city, says harbourmaster Peter Berry.

Berry says the fishermen don't always take their trash with them when they're done fishing for the day.

"It's absolutely amazing the amount of garbage left behind by the fishermen," Berry said. "The local fishermen will pick up their cups and take their things with them. But I'm finding mounds of garbage."

Berry said private property, owned by the Windsor Port Authority, Ambassador Bridge company and HMCS Hunter is strewn with garbage.

Berry says he's found minnow boxes, lure packaging, fish hooks, plastic water bottles and used hooks and lures along a one-kilometre stretch of riverfront from McKee Park to Brock Street.

"It's an open shoreline but it's private property. The owners really don't press the fact it's private property. Unfortunately, the land owners … are left with these cleanups," Berry said. "People have to realize they need to take their garbage.

"It is going to hurt the fisheries. It's going to hurt the wildlife. Fish tend to eat what's in front of them."

Berry said bits of Styrofoam, coloured plastic and other things of colour look appetizing to fish.

"They ingest it and don't completely break it down and that's the fish you're going to eat," Berry said.

Berry said there's not much the City of Windsor can do about the litter because it happens on private property.

Instead, three weeks ago, 65 volunteers banded together to fill three dumpsters with trash pulled from Black Oak Heritage Park and port authority land.

Caroline Gross fishes along the river with her sister Sharon Gross. Both live in the west end and were cleaning up the garbage Monday.

"If I had my way and I had the authority, I would chase them all out of here and tell them to pick up your rod and go home. Get out of here. Go home. Go somewhere else." Caroline Gross said.

Berry estimates hundreds were fishing on the Detroit River this past weekend.

"They care about taking fish. They don't care about the area," said local angler Mehsen Al-Mosa. "Each one has to take the responsibility and pick up their garbage. And I think it has to be signed as well, do not throw the garbage or no littering." 

Berry said the scene is a little cleaner along Riverside Drive, east of the sculpture garden, a popular spot for anglers.

However, even there, Berry said trash piles up.

"I would like to see bylaw officers fine those leaving their garbage. But that's hard to do unless you see them [littering]," Berry said.

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