The only thing a Hants County fisherman wants is a public apology and the culprits who damaged his weir will escape a criminal charge.
But, if the vandals won't own up to their crime, Darren Porter, who fishes twice a day, every day, in Bramber, says he will request the RCMP press mischief charges.
“I want a public apology. I want them to put their names in the paper and say 'I did this and I'm sorry,'” said Porter. “There's no restitution. It cost me at least $4,000, probably.”
Two men were spotted in a boat near Porter's weir June 21. Porter said they looked suspicious and began videotaping them from the shoreline. By the time he made it out to the weir, the damage was evident. The netting had been slashed.
“They had taken knives and cut the whole back of my trap out,” said Porter, who later added: “It was opened just like a can of sardines.”
Upon initial examination, there were seven large visible gashes in the netting. Porter immediately put a team of two on sewing the nets to try to salvage them for the next tide. Porter then attempted to contact the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and having no luck, contacted the RCMP and took to Facebook to ask people to keep an eye out for the boat and its occupants. He offered a $1,000 reward for the names of the vandals.
“They could’ve collected the reward themselves, theoretically,” he said, with a laugh.
His Facebook post garnered much attention, and resulted in folks lining the shore to keep an eye out as the boat left the Bramber area.
He said the outpouring of support that he witnessed that day was truly heartwarming.
“The whole community rose from Kingsport, Dalhaven, right straight through Gaspereau Valley, right straight through Windsor, right straight down the Hants Shore,” said Porter, noting the residents were adamant they would not let the vandals get away with the crime.
“To me, that's absolutely beautiful.”
Porter did obtain the names of the individuals involved, and, after several hours, caught up to them in the Gaspereau River system. Porter had the entire exchange videotaped.
Officers with the Windsor Rural RCMP detachment were unavailable to comment on the case as of press time.
However, Porter said the RCMP has interviewed the individuals involved in the case. He stressed he will seek to have them charged if they don't make a genuine apology.
“To me, a mischief fine is a joke,” said Porter.
“For the people that do harm to others' property, our system is flawed in the restitution. You can't get your money back. That money is now gone,” said Porter. “Therefore, my four children have now $3,000 to $4,000 off of their plate. My workers have a commission at the end of the season that is now off of their plate. They hurt so many people.”
Included are those in the community, Porter said, as they frequently take schoolchildren and visitors down to the weir to see how it operates.
“We show them... the wonders of the Minas Basin in this weir. Many, many people come to see it. And the kids that day didn't get to experience that,” said Porter, adding the vandals have tarnished the experience.
“So if somebody breaks into a lady's house — I'm just using that as an example — they take her security. They just didn't take my damn fish. They took more than that. They took the comfort of my employees... They took away the peace of it.”
An additional eight cuts in the netting was discovered in the three tides that followed the incident. While the weir is patched for the remainder of the season, Porter said he won't be able to fully fix it until next year.
“We have to tear it all out and put new netting in,” he said.
He hopes the culprits will feel the guilt of their actions and come forward within a week and issue a public apology in this paper.
“They purposely did what they did. They put a lot of thought into it. They got caught, and I hope they never do it again,” said Porter.
“In my opinion, shame punishment would be far better than a misdemeanour.”
But more than that, Porter hopes the men learn from this experience.
“Everybody can change. Maybe this will teach them. This is a lesson. Maybe one of them will change.”