Government of Ontario press release – The Ontario government is taking steps to protect the province’s lakes and rivers from the threat of invasive species and fish diseases while keeping the baitfish industry open for business.
On Monday, Sept. 30é2019, John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Mike Harris, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, released a draft of Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy. The draft strategy addresses key elements related to the use and movement of the bait, the type of bait allowed, and administrative improvements such as extending the licence term for commercial bait operators.
“Our government is committed to protecting Ontario’s vibrant fisheries and the industries that rely on them by reducing the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species and fish diseases,” Minister Yakabuski said. “We are aiming for a policy that protects our lakes and rivers while minimizing the impact on anglers and increasing business certainty for the commercial industry that relies on bait.”
“We heard directly from bait operators and anglers at listening sessions held across the province,” PA Harris said. “The draft strategy addresses the movement of the bait, which is a key factor in minimizing ecological risk while providing flexibility to industry and anglers.”
The draft strategy is now available on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for public feedback until November 14, 2019.
- Ontario’s bait industry is estimated to be worth $23 million per year.
- Ontario’s fisheries contribute more than $2.2 billion dollars to the provincial economy and create jobs equal to 41,000-person-years annually.
- The use of bait is one route for the potential spread of fish-based diseases (e.g., viral hemorrhagic septicemia [VHS]) and invasive species (e.g., round goby) across Ontario.