Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy

ERO number
019-0518
Notice type
Policy
Act
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
September 30, 2019 - November 14, 2019 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
September 30, 2019
to November 14, 2019

Decision summary

In September 2019, we consulted on a draft proposal entitled ‘Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy’. The draft proposed a new approach to bait management in Ontario by addressing the movement of bait across the province. We have decided to move forward with implementation of the policy, with some modifications.

Decision details

A decision was made on June 17, 2020 to proceed with Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy. Following a 45-day comment period, as well as feedback received from previous engagement throughout the Bait Policy Review process, revisions were made to the draft strategy to create a revised Sustainable Bait Management Strategy.

This policy includes a variety of elements related to bait management in Ontario, including the movement of bait, personal harvest, permitted bait species, the use of bait in Brook Trout lakes, and aspects related to commercial bait operations.

The proposal will be implemented through amendments to the Ontario Fishery Regulations under the federal Fisheries Act, and Ontario Regulation 664/98 (Fish Licensing) under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

No additional opportunity for comments will be provided.

Comments received

Through the registry

55

By email

2

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Feedback received indicates that there is support for additional restrictions to address the spread of aquatic invasive species and disease.

As a result of comments received on the draft ‘Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy’ the draft policy was revised to enable a bait testing program which will allow tested, disease-free Emerald Shiners harvested from Lake Simcoe to be moved north in the winter.  This limited-scope testing program will improve upon the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s existing testing program, helping to ensure an adequate bait supply to the Central Bait Management Zone and a portion of the Northeast Bait Management Zone (south of Highway 17 and east of the Fisheries Management Zone 11 border) throughout the winter months.

Comment themes on the draft strategy included the following

Comment Theme: Scale of Movement

Some commenters were supportive of the proposal, while some commercial bait operators in southern and central Ontario felt that the four proposed Bait Management Zones would impact their businesses.  There were concerns that these zones would result in very little bait availability in the Central Bait Management Zone especially in the winter months. Some harvesters and dealers also continued to advocate for a viral hemorrhagic septicemia testing program.

Comment Theme: Personally-harvested bait

Some individuals were supportive of the proposal. Others expressed concern that they would not be able to personally harvest bait outside of their home bait management zone.

Comment Theme: Need for more restrictions

Some commenters expressed concerns that the draft strategy was not restrictive enough to prevent the spread of invasive species and advocated for banning live bait entirely.

Comment Theme: Brook Trout lakes

Comments were mixed. There was support to ban the use of bait in native brook trout lakes, though some felt that this proposal would be too restrictive. Some expressed concerns that the proposal should also include restrictions in rivers and streams.

Comment Theme: Education and Enforcement

Feedback indicated the importance of effective enforcement of the policy, and the importance of education and awareness for anglers, operators and the public regarding the risks of spreading invasive species and disease.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

MNRF - Fish and Wildlife Policy Branch - Fisheries Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

Connect with us

Contact

Public Input Coordinator

Phone number
Email address
Office
MNRF - Fish and Wildlife Policy Branch - Fisheries Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0518
Notice type
Policy
Act
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

September 30, 2019 - November 14, 2019 (45 days)

Proposal details

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has conducted a comprehensive review of its provincial bait policies to improve the management of bait (baitfish and leeches). The purpose of the review was to evaluate ways to minimize the ecological risks associated with the use, movement and harvest of bait, while also reducing the complexity of current management approaches and increasing business certainty for the bait industry.

The bait review process led to a draft proposal, the ‘Strategic Policy for Bait Management in Ontario’, that was posted on the Environmental Registry for comment in 2017. The Ministry also held consultation sessions across the province to gather feedback on the proposal. In 2018 and 2019, MNRF’s Parliamentary Assistant held six bait listening sessions across Ontario to gather updated feedback on the current bait management program.

We considered the feedback received on the 2017 proposal and from provincial consultation and listening sessions. The feedback and concerns are addressed in this new proposal, ‘Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy’.

The new strategy proposes that:

  • movement of both purchased and personally-harvested baitfish and leeches is limited to four bait management zones
  • anglers can personally-harvest and move their bait within the zone of their primary residence without additional documentation
  • anglers who use bait outside of the bait management zone of their primary residence would be required to purchase their bait in the zone where they are fishing. They would be required to keep a receipt on hand to show proof of purchase location. The proof of purchase would remain valid for two weeks. Anglers who fish and use bait in their home zone do not need a receipt
  • the list of eligible baitfish species is reduced to only those 34 species that anglers and commercial operators typically use and sell
  • the use and storage of bait is prohibited in native Brook Trout lakes
  • no changes to the use and harvest of bait in Provincial Parks
  • minor changes will be made to commercial bait licences (e.g. to provide longer licence terms, to work with the industry to develop a compliance framework)

We intend to amend Ontario Fishery Regulations under the federal Fisheries Act and Ontario Regulation 664/98 (Fish Licensing) under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to implement the proposal should it proceed. No additional opportunity for comments will be provided.

Public consultation opportunities

The Ministry worked to engage the public through the Provincial Bait Review, including:

  • proposal posting on the Environmental Registry (see below)
  • twenty-one engagement sessions with Indigenous communities, industry, stakeholders and the public (2017)
  • six bait listening sessions lead by MNRF’s Parliamentary Assistant (2018/2019)

To comment on the proposal, please submit your comments online by clicking the ‘Submit a comment’ button, or by reaching out to the contact(s) listed. The Ministry may notify some groups that otherwise are unlikely to become aware of the proposal.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Species Conservation Policy Branch Fisheries Section
Address

300 Water Street,
5th Floor, North Tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from September 30, 2019
to November 14, 2019

Connect with us

Contact

Public Input Coordinator - Fisheries Section

Phone number
Email address
Office
Public Input Coordinator Fisheries Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North Tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number