Friday, 21 March 2008

Nova Scotia Waters are Open to all Residents

One of the great things about Nova Scotia is that the woods and waters are open to all residents.

This basic right to access fishing is enshrined in law.

As we watch the various machinations of our own politicians and the fascinating spectacle of the pre-election scramble by our friends to the south, it is easy to be cynical of politicians specifically and in general.

Sure, there are lots of questionable decisions made by those in public service but here is an example of one thing that they have gotten right - at least from my point of view.

Here is the actual wording of the law and notice that you do not need to be a lawyer to understand it. Thanks to Larry from the “Flies and Lies” list for the link.

(1) Any resident of the Province shall have the right to go on foot along the banks of any river, stream or lake, upon and across any uncultivated lands and Crown lands for the purpose of lawfully fishing with rod and line in such rivers, streams or lakes.

(2) Any resident of the Province shall have the right to go on, upon or across any river, stream or lake in boat or canoe or otherwise, for the purpose of lawfully fishing with rod and line in such rivers, streams or lakes.

(3) The rights conferred by this Section shall not in any way limit or restrict the right of any owner or occupant to compensation for actual damages caused by any person going upon or across such lands for the purpose aforesaid, and shall not be construed to give the right to build any fires upon such lands. R.S., c. 14, s. 3.

Another reason to love Nova Scotia. It almost makes up for the winters.

Here is a link to the whole Angling Act from the Government of Nova Scotia.

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Blogger Steve Dobson said...

I should have mentioned that the photo is one of my favourites. It was done by Brad McCaughan, a great photographer and a good fishing buddy.


21 March 2008 at 00:18  
Blogger Random Phrump said...

Interesting post... this free access to woods and waters that Nova Scotians take for granted did not always exist.

A couple of observations... Nova Scotia once subscribed to the doctrine of riparian rights and the Medway River, including the land where your camp is situated, was once controlled by a Halifax businessman, Michael Dwyer. He held exclusive rights to fishing the Medway river from Bangs Falls to Poultice (Poltz) Falls.

Those rights were revoked with the passing of The Water Act of 1919 which terminated all private riparian rights,and transferred them to the government of Nova Scotia.

That being said, is it not within a property owner's right to post his land with no trespassing signs that anglers must respect under penalty of law?

22 March 2008 at 18:34  
Blogger Steve Dobson said...

All very interesting information RP.

It was your posting on the subject that made me finally look up the actual statute.

The key phrase is:
"uncultivated lands and Crown lands" I think.

Someone can post a sign that there is no trespassing on his lands. The "cultivated" is assumed.

The law specifies that you are allowed to walk down the bank, which he does not really own, to access fishing. You would not be legally allowed to walk through his garden or through his living room for that matter.

I suspect that common sense is the prevailing dictate. Damaging his property in anyway, be it littering or trampling flowers, violates the spirit of the law.

Should you find yourself in a courtroom defending your right of access you would not be in the court with "clean hands".

That is my interpretation anyway with no legal background whatsoever.

Truth be told I would be too embarrassed to walk through someone's yard or such like. If I could not wade down along the bank, I would likely go somewhere else.


22 March 2008 at 21:51  
Blogger Random Phrump said...

A few more thoughts...
As coastal Nova Scotia continues to be bought up by CFA's who do much to improve the property tax coffers of local governments, a new lobby is forming to restrict access by sportsmen - be they anglers, hunters, or bird watchers.

These landowners typically come from urban environments and take great pleasure in their pastoral retreats. Privacy is something tangible to them. The thought of strangers with guns, fishing poles, or cameras, roaming their property is unspeakably repugnant to them.

I foresee a time when the tide of political affairs will turn in their favor.

Enjoy it while you've still got it!

23 March 2008 at 00:17  
Blogger Steve Dobson said...

Well, as we know- money talks.
I hope you are wrong but the courts have a funny way of looking at old laws as archaic rather than good enough to have withstood the test of time.


23 March 2008 at 02:05  
Blogger baraz said...

Craziness, access to anything here in Ontario is pretty limited. There are certain laws that allow access to areas to some extent, but the laws are very confusing as to the whats and the wheres allowed. NS law is very clear!

23 March 2008 at 18:45  
Blogger Steve Dobson said...

Well Baraz;

Where the law is concerned clairity is often an illusion. But you have to admit; its pretty cool that the legislators took the time to look out for fishermen.


23 March 2008 at 21:17  

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