The draft Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan is available for public comment on the Environmental Registry until April 23, 2014. The draft plan examines the entire ecosystem of the lake and considers a range of management options to address the diverse fish community. The plan reflects the results of recent studies that show the Lake Nipissing walleye population is stressed and at high risk of significant decline. The state of the walleye population is the result of many years of unsustainable recreational and commercial fishing.
The plan proposes two new recreational angling regulation changes to support the recovery of the walleye population in Lake Nipissing. Ontario is considering these important steps to ensure Lake
Nipissing’s fisheries remain sustainable and available for future generations to enjoy. The first proposed change is to increase the minimum size limit, effective May 17, 2014, to 46 cm (18 inches). This would ensure juvenile walleye remain in the lake, reach spawning size and be given a chance to reproduce at least once before being harvested. Catch limits would remain the same: two walleye for sport fish licence holders and one walleye for conservation licence holders. Recognizing the importance of the recreational fishery to the local economy, Ontario is also proposing to open the bass season one week earlier, on June 21, 2014. This change would provide additional angling opportunities and support the recovery of walleye in Lake Nipissing. The government also introduced a new yellow perch regulation on January 1, 2014, that increased the daily catch limit from 25 to 50 fish for sport fish licences. While recreational anglers have reported increased walleye fishing success over the past year, the fish being harvested are the ones that require protection to grow to spawning size. The number of large-size walleye observed during spawning or those caught by anglers in past years has been noticeably declining. We need to move quickly to protect juvenile fish. There is a high risk to the recovery of the walleye population in Lake Nipissing which could result in irreversible damages if these changes are not made. Ontario is currently actively engaging local First Nations about the impacts of the commercial fishery on walleye population recovery.
To view and comment on the draft plan, please visit the Environmental Registry website (http://Ontario.ca/ebr ) and search for registry number 012-1353