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Q: Regulations require that all kept fish must be packaged so that they are both identifiable and countable. Does that mean I can preserve fish in a clear Mason jar but not canned in a tin can?
– Tim Skinner, Longlac
A: You are correct that Section 39.1 of the Ontario Fishery Regulations, 2007 prohibits a person from skinning, cutting or packing fish caught by sport fishing in a manner that the species cannot be easily identified or the number of fish cannot easily be counted, unless the fish is being prepared for immediate consumption.
The intent of this regulation is to allow for effective enforcement of Ontario’s catch and possession limits, particularly while fish are in transit. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has developed “Tips for Packaging Fish” to help anglers understand and comply with the regulations associated with the packing, transport, and storage of fish. Please see pages 14-15 of the 2021 Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary.
Fish that are “being prepared for immediate consumption” includes the process of pickling, therefore the requirements of Section 39.1 to keep fish easily identifiable and countable do not apply. Pickled fish count towards an individual’s possession limits and conservation officers may undertake an investigation to determine the number and species of fish that have been pickled but there are no restrictions on the type of container that can be used to store pickled fish.
Under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, a person who catches fish from Ontario waters is prohibited from abandoning the fish or permitting the flesh to spoil, if the fish is suitable for human consumption. Therefore, care must be taken to prevent pickled fish from spoiling. Anglers are encouraged to label their storage containers with details such as the type and number of fish, harvest location, date, etc. as a matter of best practice.
– Brenda Keonig (Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNRF)
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Originally published in the 2020 Ontario OUT of DOORS Fishing Annual. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.