Rule changes coming for fishers and how they use bait

A crowd fishing along the Detroit River at the foot of Ouellette Ave. downtown Windsor. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

The Ontario government has released a draft of its baitfish management strategy, and it is looking for input from Ontario fishers.

The strategy seeks to protect Ontario’s lakes and rivers from invasive species, like the round goby. The use of bait is also one route for the spread of fish-based diseases.

The changes will limit where fishers can buy and use their baitfish. Fish used for bait will have to be used within four management zones.

Anglers who intend to use their baitfish outside of the zone where they live will need to keep proof of purchase. The receipt will be good for two weeks, and they may be asked to provide it to conservation officers.

The list of baitfish allowed will be restricted to only 34 species typically used by anglers and commercial fishers.

The proposal was first introduced in 2017, and since then the government has held consultations across the province at six listening sessions.

The bait industry is estimated to be worth $23-million a year in Ontario.

The public can comment on the draft which is available on the Environmental Registry of Ontario website until November 14.