Bait controls manage virus

Minnows keep The Bait Bucket – and the Ontario’s sport fishing industry – alive, says store owner Tom Brittain.

Tom Brittain, owner of The Bait Bucket on Innisfil Street, depends on selling live bait. It’s what brings customers to his store.

Tom Brittain, owner of The Bait Bucket on Innisfil Street, depends on selling live bait. It’s what brings customers to his store. (Stan Howe)

An avid fisherman who turned his hobby into his life’s work last June, Brittain supports Ontario’s efforts to contain the spread of invasive species and fish diseases, such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), by creating bait zones.

“Because of VHS, we’re only allowed to sell bait within the Lake Simcoe management zone,” the Innisfil Street business owner said.

The zone extends to Gravenhurst and follows tributary limits such as Upper Big Chute Road south to Orillia, west to Elmvale, south via Highway 27 to Aurora.

“The harvester guys have it really tough. They have to abide by the borders. As a retailer, I have to let customers know they can’t take bait north of Gravenhurst. By the same token, you can’t bring bait from another region. There are rules.”

VHS was first detected in Lake Simcoe in 2011 and, shortly after, the Ministry of Natural Resources created the Lake Simcoe Management Zone to stop its spread. The virus had been found in Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron and waterways connected to them in 2007.

MNR senior media relations officer Jolanta Kowalski said the province has been working with bait harvesters and dealers to contain the virus.

“The MNR is currently reviewing provincial bait policies related to baitfish and leeches (i.e. not worms for other forms of bait) in an effort to take a proactive approach to their management. One of the goals of this review is to maintain a viable bait industry and provide greater business certainty to the bait industry while addressing ecological risk,” she said.

Barrie Advance
By Laurie Watt
Read More Here: http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/4329229-bait-controls-manage-virus/