The proposed fishery regulation changes for walleye on Lake Scugog require a change to the Ontario Fishery Regulations (OFR).
The Fisheries Act, R.S.C., 1985, Chap F-14, as amended, and its regulations, including the Ontario Fishery Regulations (OFR), SOR/89-93 are not prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights.
Under Subsection 14(1) of the OFR, the provincial Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry may, through the issuance of a variation order, vary a close time, fishing quota or limit on the size or weight of fish where a close time, fishing quota or limit on the size or weight of fish is already fixed in respect of an area under these regulations.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), with support from the Fisheries Management Zone 17 (FMZ 17) Advisory Council, is inviting the public to provide input on proposed changes to fishing regulations for walleye on Lake Scugog (within FMZ 17).
The MNRF with the support of the FMZ 17 Advisory Council developed a Fisheries Management Plan for FMZ 17 in 2009 which identifies management challenges associated with the recreational fishery in FMZ 17. The observed declines in walleye abundance, and associated shifts in the structure of the fish community, have been identified as the highest priority fisheries management challenge in FMZ 17.
The walleye population in Lake Scugog has been assessed by MNRF since the 1970’s. The walleye fishery in Lake Scugog was excellent in the 1970’s and 1980’s; however, the population started to decline in the 1990’s and continues to decline today.
Since the 1990’s, walleye abundance has continued to decline due to continued high fishing pressure and the additional factor of low annual recruitment (the number of small/young fish being added to the population each year due to natural reproduction). Fish community structure changes may also be impacting walleye abundance in Lake Scugog. The fish community in Lake Scugog is now dominated by bluegill and black crappie. These fish species compete directly with young walleye for food and habitat. Black crappie may also prey on young walleye. These factors, among others, may lead to a reduction in the number of walleye that survive to adulthood. If the walleye fishery is to recover, harvest levels of the past can no longer be sustained.
The MNRF, with cooperation with the FMZ 17 Advisory Council, has developed proposed regulation options to address the serious decline of walleye in Lake Scugog.
The proposed regulation options are as follows:
Option # 1: Close winter walleye season (Jan. 1 – last day in Feb.), maintain current summer walleye season (the season for Lake Scugog would then be aligned with the dates of the open walleye season for FMZ 17 (2nd Sat. in May – Nov. 15th)).
Option # 2: Close summer and winter walleye seasons (long-term moratorium). Seasons for other fisheries remain open.
The purpose of this notice is to advise the public that, in accordance with the Ontario Fishery Regulation, MNRF is proposing changes to the fisheries regulations regarding walleye in Lake Scugog and to solicit comments on those proposed changes.
MNRF will be closing the walleye fishery for Lake Scugog in Fisheries Management Zone (FMZ) 17 year round until further notice. The closure will take effect on January 1, 2016. The regulation change takes into account advice from both the Fisheries Management Zone 17 council, input from the public and stakeholders and the best science available.
Persons are invited to submit their comments to the contact person listed in this notice or by submitting comments directly via email to FishPTBO@ontario.ca by May 29, 2015.
Link to the Backgrounder
Information on the Fisheries Management Zone 17 Fisheries Management Plan, additional information on the Ecological Framework for Fisheries Management and the Fisheries Management Zones can be found at: http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/fisheries-management-zones.
There will be one open house in April of 2015 for the public to attend and provide comment. Please contact the person listed in this notice for more information on the open house. The FMZ 17 Fisheries Advisory Council will be consulting within their networks on the proposed changes.