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Peterborough, Canada — 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 http://www.ofah.org/, like the OFAH on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Image Courtesy of Starley Shelton