Tuesday, 05 January 2016 15:31

Avoiding Manslaughter Charges (video, photo) Featured

Written by Michael Short
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How an aeration project nearly went wrong for a conservation group

For years, the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) has used a tried and true method of aerating lakes. The surface method was easy to install and helped prevent winterkill on a number of small Alberta lakes.

Conservation group at risk for manslaughter charges

But now it has become apparent, under section 263 of the Criminal Code, manslaughter charges could be brought against ACA staff, management and the Board of Directors, should anyone fall through the ice on a lake that is being aerated.

Signs are not enough to avoid charges

The common sense part of you might think due diligence has been done if an organization like the ACA conducting an aeration operation on a lake, has posted signs warning anglers or those on a snow machine of the potential danger.

Not so.

Clearly the language use in section 263 is so deterring the ACA is making an effort to have it changed. In order to press the point home anglers and anyone else who value time out on the ice are being asked to contact their local MPs.

How to prevent winterkill

Of the 800-or-so fishable lakes in Alberta, many are prone to winterkill. An early freeze, combined with a heavy snow pack, can rob a lake of oxygen.

For the most part, Alberta lakes are shallow and nutrient rich. This means there is a lot of vegetation growth during the summer, which can further reduce oxygen levels as the vegetation dies over the winter months. It can become a problematic pattern.

Without the intervention from organizations like the ACA, we could face a substantial loss in fish populations.

Pumping oxygen into a lake during winter will save fish

A new approach to aeration

Until there are changes to the criminal code, the ACA has decided to adopt a proactive approach. The challenge is to prevent the size of the hole in the ice created by the aeration process from spreading out.

As it turns out, biologists at the ACA are actually pretty good engineers too, as they have developed a unique technique to manage this tricky situation.

It turns out biologists at the ACA are also pretty innovative

Ice fishing should be one of the most uncomplicated things we anglers can enjoy.

Walk out on a frozen lake, drill a hole through the ice, drop a line and lure down, then wait for a fish to take the offering. Here’s hoping once all the legal business is sorted out, a anglers will once again be able to return to this simplistic pursuit.

Ice Fishing Photo Gallery

Before you head out on to the ice

A quick guide to heading out over a frozen lake:

  • For walking out on to the ice and standing for longer than two hours, a minimum thickness of 15 cm is required.
  • Driving on to the ice with a snow machine or quad requires a minimum thickness of 25 cm.
  • Driving a loaded vehicle onto the ice requires a minimum thickness of between 41 to 55 cm.

 

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