Privacy laws used in attempt to poach fishing spot

by Steve Galea | August 15, 2017

privacy - fishing

Fishing pro and travel writer Mike Borger and his 10-year-old son created some fine memories while on an extended fishing trip in the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park (APP) this May.

One thing Borger would like to forget, however, is an attempt by a person to use a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to learn about his campsite permit on that trip, presumably to ascertain the location of his secret brook trout lake —– a water body where he and his son caught six brook trout between five and six pounds and several between three and four pounds.

Borger believes the person who submitted the FOI request first became aware of the spectacular brook trout fishing they experienced because of a 40-minute video Borger made for his website and personal use. In that video, the name or specific location of the lake was not revealed.

As a result, in early July, Borger received a five-page letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) Information, Privacy and Records Management Unit making him aware of the FOI request and asking him to provide input.

“What they wanted from me was a long and detailed response,” he said. “They wanted a rebuttal to every point the applicant made but I had no time for that so I wrote ‘Invasion of privacy.’”

APP policy requires any traveller to the interior to fill out a campsite and route itinerary for safety. Borger said it also helps Park staff manage fishing pressure on sensitive interior lakes.

Though Borger was upset that the MNRF response required his input, he acknowledged that they were following a protocol.

privacy - son fishing

“I didn’t think they should entertain the question since their primary mandate is to preserve and protect the resource.”

On July 21 the MNRF responded to the FOI request by saying they intended, “neither to confirm or deny the existence of the record,” said MNRF Senior Media Relations Officer Jolanta Kowalski.

The person who requested the FOI request has 30 days after receiving the decision to appeal with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

An email response from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to Ontario OUT of DOORS explained, “Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act generally protects the privacy of individuals with respect to the disclosure of personal information held by institutions. However, institutions can disclose personal information about an individual to someone else if it is not an unjustified invasion of the individual’s personal privacy. These requests must be considered on a case by case basis, keeping in mind factors such as the sensitivity of the information, its benefits to the broader public and whether or not disclosing it would result in personal harm or harassment of the individual. If you are unsatisfied with a decision made by a provincial or municipal government institution in response to your freedom of information request, you have the right to file an appeal with our office.”

Kowalski said, “It costs five dollars to file an FOI request.”

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  1. Steve wrote: poach2 VERB [WITH OBJECT] 1Illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one's own or in contravention of official protection. ‘20 tigers are thought to have been poached from national parks’ ‘he might arrest you for poaching’ More example sentencesSynonyms Were these actions illegal in any way? Were these fish naturally occurring or stocked by all of our tax dollars? Are you using the right choice of words (poach.see Oxford Dictionary description above)? Should you turn off your video camera (bragging recorder), and keep your mouth closed if you dislike someone using rights which we all have and is at all our disposal legally to find out where you are fishing on public land? A proper grasp of the English language in your heading will ensure you in fact do have a clue what you are talking about. There is an old saying "You can think what you want, but the minute you open your mouth, it becomes everyone's business". Stick to comedic writing Steve. There are too many holes in this piece of swiss cheese.
    • Dhawk wrote: Relax... Poach also means 'to take' (in the english language). You're reading too far into things. He's using his own rights to deny the request. I would love to know a spot like that. I'll just have to get on the water. I hope it stays secret until I find it.
      • Steve wrote: When I am reading a magazine article that is written for fishing and hunting, the word poach has only one definition. If you read the definition, you will see the word taken is associated with illegal taking, Nothing this individual did was wrong and within his rights stated in the Freedom of Information Act. Don't blame the player, blame the game. I really hope you find your honey hole for trophy trout as well my friend. I also hope you don't post everything online for everyone to see. I also hope when you find this spot, you are smart enough to keep it secret and not divulge it into public domain.
        • Rod Bent wrote: Poaching? Maybe not... Invasion of privacy? Maybe if it gains access to anything beyond personal info that is shared publicly on his website. I do think it's a shameless approach to finding a "secret" fishing hole (regardless if it's on public land). The person should go camping and find the spot for themselves! Or befriend Mr. Borger through his website or other public profiles and see if he might reveal the location directly instead of some sneaky back door use of an Act that was doubtfully intended to be used in this way. That approach definitely does not meet the higher standards and ethics that any self respecting angler or hunter should hold themselves to.
  2. BassPro13 wrote: Anyone know what happened with the appeal? Curious if it was approved or denied (I pray that it was denied!!!)