Lake Nipissing walleye fisheries in crisis
MNR must act now and suspend commercial gill net fishing
PETERBOROUGH, ON, July 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – The Ontario Federation of
Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is calling on the provincial government to
immediately suspend commercial gill net walleye fishing on Lake
Nipissing. The OFAH is basing its recommendation on data provided by
the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), which recently commissioned an
independent review of the status of the Lake Nipissing walleye
fisheries and asked the OFAH to provide comment. OFAH biologists have
concluded that the walleye population has suffered dramatic declines
over the past decade due to unregulated commercial gill net fishing.
“Lake Nipissing, one of Ontario’s specially designated waters, has seen
its walleye fisheries virtually collapse. The MNR has the authority and
responsibility to manage our natural resources for the benefit of all
Ontarians, and yet they have allowed overharvesting by commercial gill
net operations to continue unregulated for more than a decade,” said
Dr. Terry Quinney, Provincial Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services.
Since 1999 increasing restrictions have been imposed on recreational
anglers such as shorter seasons, lower limits and a protected slot
size, in which they’ve complied with in an effort to help stabilize and
restore the walleye population. Despite this, recreational harvest
levels in recent years are at an all time low.
Although MNR biologists repeatedly indicated that there was reason for
grave concern, the province ignored its own science and failed to
implement a fully regulated commercial walleye regime, which has
allowed the situation to reach to crisis proportions.
“Until the provincial government suspends all commercial gill net
operations and implements enforceable regulations, their own data tells
us that the Lake Nipissing walleye population will not begin to
recover. The problem is not the recreational fishery. The problem is,
and continues to be unregulated commercial gill netting,” said Quinney.
OFAH action on this issue can be found at www.ofah.org/nipissingwalleye
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 675 member
clubs, the OFAH is the province’s largest nonprofit, fish and wildlife
conservation-based organization, and the VOICE of anglers and hunters.
For more information, visit www.ofah.org, like the OFAH on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
SOURCE Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters