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Canada Tightens Fishing Laws to Protect Lake Erie

Toledo Blade
Steve Pollock

A daily yellow perch creel-limit for sport anglers in Canadian waters of western and central Lake Erie has been put into effect by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

The limit in the basins now will be 50 perch a day for resident or nonresident anglers having the full sport-fishing license, and 25 a day for anglers having the conservation license. The regulations also apply to the Detroit River and Rondeau Bay.

Previously the province did not limit the daily sport catch of perch in western and central Lake Erie.

John Cooper, an OMNR spokesman in London, said that the new limits are part of Ontario’s cooperative agreement with fishery agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York in 2000 to take a conservative approach to the harvest of yellow perch. It took 18 months, he explained, to establish such sport rules.

The cooperative agreement is aimed at conserving the lake’s perch stocks while they recover from lows registered in the early 1990s.

"Many factors that regulate the abundance of yellow perch stocks, such as climate, weather, habitat, exotic species, phosphorus management, and food-web changes are difficult to control directly," the ministry said. "Controlling the harvest of perch is easier to manage and the response is much quicker."

The province previously took steps to reduce the commercial netting of perch, especially during spring spawning time.

"Although the Lake Erie ecosystem has changed dramatically over the last decade, the basic habitat requirements for yellow perch, such as moderate water-depth, water temperature, and productivity levels, remain intact," the OMNR said.

"There are signs that yellow perch stocks have been recovering in response to recent management actions taken by the five Lake Erie fishery agencies to reduce exploitation."

Ohio, for example, has maintained its 30-perch daily sport limit and reduced commercial net-quotas as its contribution to perch conservation.

Commentary: The foregoing discussion of the new Ontario perch sport-limits was presented in greater detail than usual. The purpose is to illustrate the depth of the province’s commitment to addressing Lake Erie fishery issues and taking necessary management actions - something that too often is poorly understood down here on the south shore.
Few parties here appreciate or understand the OMNR’s commitment to walleye-stock conservation, either.
The ministry has been a full-fledged player in that cooperative conservation game as well, and has labored mightily to reduce commercial walleye quotas on the north shore. So doing is a major contribution to walleye conservation efforts lakewide, even though the action is a political hot potato in the province because of the strong, influential, commercial-netting lobby there.
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