This consultation was open from:
July 26, 2023
to September 11, 2023
We are proposing regulatory amendments to enable the transport of preserved baitfish and leeches into and out of Bait Management Zones (BMZ) and to allow the temporary transport of bait out of and into a BMZ so that they can be used in the BMZ they were acquired in. These changes are intended to increase flexibility for anglers and bait operator.
The use and harvest of baitfish and leeches has been an important part of Ontario’s fishing heritage for over one hundred years; however, these activities have the potential to spread aquatic invasive species (AIS) and fish-based pathogens (e.g., diseases, parasites) to new areas as bait is moved from the point of harvest to point of sale and ultimately to the location where it is used.
Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy (Bait Strategy) was finalized in 2020 and provides a framework for how baitfish and leeches are managed in Ontario. The measures identified in the Bait Strategy are intended to help protect Ontario’s fisheries and the industries that rely on them from the ecological risks associated with the spread of AIS and fish-based pathogens. A major component of the Bait Strategy was the establishment of the Bait Management Zone (BMZ) framework which restricts the transport of both live and dead baitfish and leeches into or out of a BMZ (with a few exceptions), thus helping to reduce the ecological risks associated with the long-distance transport of bait.
The changes to implement the BMZ framework came into effect on January 1, 2022, and since this time anglers and commercial bait operators have adjusted to the new regulations. However, in some areas of Ontario it may be challenging for anglers and commercial bait operators to obtain and/or transport bait (e.g., where communities are in remote areas, where there may not be bait shops near their fishing destination, or in circumstances where the road networks do not align with BMZ boundaries).
To help address these challenges, MNRF is proposing regulatory changes that would enable the transport of preserved baitfish and leeches across BMZ boundaries, as well as allowing the temporary movement of live and dead baitfish and leeches out of and back into; BMZ so that they can be used in the BMZ they were acquired in (e.g., where road networks do not line up with BMZ boundaries).
As part of the consultation process, the ministry will need to determine what preservation methods would be permitted (e.g., salt, dehydration, isopropyl alcohol); If the regulations are amended to enable the transport of preserved bait, other consequential changes would be required to enable commercial operators to preserve their bait with salt, and to buy and sell bait that has been preserved with salt. This proposal is intended to allow for additional flexibility for anglers and commercial bait operators while maintaining the ecological integrity that the BMZ framework provides.
Regulatory impact analysis:
The new proposal will not result in any new restrictions, but rather provide additional flexibility for anglers and potentially new business opportunities and increased clarity for commercial bait operators. Enabling preserved bait to be transported to other BMZs may help address local supply issues in some areas, may assist remote tourism camps in the Far North obtain dead baitfish for their clients (provided it has also been preserved), would allow anglers to preserve bait for use in another BMZ and would enable the importation of preserved bait. It is anticipated that the new proposal will not result in any new direct, indirect or administrative costs to businesses.
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300 Water Street
5th floor, North tower
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