© HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
Five Islands clam fisherman Alonzo Cormier and his nephew Roger Goguen have been banned from using a short portion of Crown land with their ATVs to access their fishing grounds, despite having done so for decades. HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
FIVE ISLANDS - After more than 50 years of clam fishing in Five Islands, Alzono Cormier has been told he can no longer use one of his traditional routes to the beach.
That route involves travelling a distance of between 100 to 150 feet on provincial Crown land belonging to the Five Islands Provincial Park on his ATV. But despite the fact he has been using an ATV on the trail since 1983, he and his nephew Roger Goguen have both been told they can no longer do so.
"We've been clamming since before the park started. (more than 40 years ago)," Cormier said. "Before the park started they had a meeting with the fishermen and they said they would never (do anything to) affect any livelihood of the fishermen."
Taking the only alternative route to those particular fishing grounds, which Cormier said he only uses two or three weeks out of the summer, takes an additional two hours. And given the complications with tide times, that hardly makes it worth his while.
"That's getting to be hard work for our days, because there's no need of it," he said.
The Provincial Parks Act makes it illegal for off-road vehicles to be used on such property, unless it is by park staff engaged in their day-to-day duties.
Despite that, the two fishermen have never encountered problems in the past and the issue only arose when a new supervisor took up duties there this year.
That led to a visit by Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and letters issued to the fishermen telling them if they continued to use their ATVs on park property, they would be charged and the vehicles would be seized.
"I was more or less confused more than anything," Cormier said. "We always left our vehicles (trucks) so they would not be in the way of the tourists. And we never drove our ATVs through the park or anything like that.
"I have no idea what took place this year because to be honest with you, up until this year we never had any problem. They always let us go through."
DNR spokesman Brent Loney said that while the province "understands the clamming industry is an important livelihood to some people," the interpretation of the Provincial Parks Act is very clear, and although the fishermen have accessed the beach route in the past, now that their activity has been brought to the attention of officials, the rules have to be enforced.
"There was an issue with the walking trail in that particular park," he said. "We obviously want the visitors to the park to be safe, families use that walking trail, and so that's why allowing vehicles on that trail is not a good idea."
Cormier, however, feels the unwritten agreement that he believed had been put in place before the property became a park, should still be adhered to.
"It's a shame because we weren't hurting anything," he said. "They're not keeping their promise because those ATVs are part of our livelihood just like they're using them at the park themselves."
Loney said there is no record of the agreement on file at DNR.