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Lake Nipissing Walleye Catch Limits Reduced Again

Anglers Continue to Carry Burden of Unregulated Commercial Gill Net Fishery

PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 01/08/13 -- The MNR has announced a reduction in catch and possession limits for Walleye on Lake Nipissing. As of January 1, 2013, the catch and possession limit has been reduced from four to two (with a sport fishing licence) and from two to one (with a conservation licence).

In July 2012, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) called on the Government of Ontario to immediately suspend commercial gill net fishing for Walleye in Lake Nipissing. The OFAH based its recommendation on data provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), which commissioned an independent review of the status of Lake Nipissing Walleye fisheries and asked the OFAH to provide comment. OFAH biologists have concluded that the Walleye population in Lake Nipissing has suffered dramatic declines over the past decade due to unregulated commercial gill net fishing.

The OFAH declined MNR's invitation to participate as a member of the Lake Nipissing Walleye Project Advisory Committee because the MNR refused to address the real problem - unregulated commercial gill net harvest.

Several of the stakeholders on the Advisory Committee were very disappointed with the process. They felt that the MNR had already made their decision prior to forming the committee and just used the committee process as a platform. The Lake Nipissing Stakeholders Association (LNSA), who was represented on the committee, indicated that the MNR had their biologist show (on a graph) that a reduction in the catch and possession limits for recreational anglers would have no positive impact on the Walleye fishery!

"MNR has acknowledged what the OFAH has been telling them since the summer - additional restrictions on anglers will have no positive impact on the fishery," said OFAH Fisheries Biologist Matt DeMille. "MNR's confirmation that recreational anglers are not the problem reaffirms that the commercial gill net fishery must be fully regulated before there is any hope to recover the Walleye fishery in Lake Nipissing."

In response to MNR's unwillingness to regulate the commercial gill net harvest on Lake Nipissing, many groups, such as the LNSA have been pushing for a restocking program to recover populations and restore the value of the Walleye fishery they depend on. "Although stocking can be used to supplement the existing population, it does not offer a sustainable, long-term solution that addresses the primary issue - unregulated commercial gill net harvest. Until commercial gill net harvest is fully regulated, stocking more Walleye into Lake Nipissing is unlikely to contribute any more spawning-sized fish to the population," said DeMille. The OFAH believes that stocking can be a valuable management tool, but should not be used as a replacement for sound fisheries management.

The OFAH Report and additional information on the Lake Nipissing Walleye Fishery is available at www.ofah.org/nipissingwalleye.

With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 675 member clubs, the OFAH is the province's largest nonprofit, fish and wildlife conservation-based organization, and the VOICE of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org, like the OFAH on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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