Big changes could affect the way fishing bait is used in Ontario
SEVERN TOWNSHIP, ONT. -- Anglers typically use small fish as bait to catch bigger fish, and live minnows are the number one seller at Glen Howitt's tackle shop in Gravenhurst. But he's not sure where he will get them if new rules for managing live bait go into effect.
"We will end up closing the doors," said Howitt, Gravenhurst Bait and Tackle.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is proposing changes to Ontario's fishing regulations that would restrict the movement of live bait, limit species and certain aspects of personal and commercial harvests. The changes are meant to slow the spread of diseases and invasive species that threaten the health of native fisheries.
The president of the Live Bait Angling Association said the new rules would be devastating to the bait industry,
"It's going to put a lot of people out of business, and that's concerning because these businesses - these mom and pop operations - this is their livelihood. This is their pension. This is their future," said Jim Leworthy, Ontario Live Bait Angling Association president.
The new bait management strategy splits the province into zones.
Live bait caught in southern zones would not be allowed into the northern zones in cottage country. The bait industry wants economic development and tourism ministries involved in the discussion.
"If a minister can pull it and have it up for discussion on the floor then it has a better chance of having more discussion about it," Leworthy explained.
The new bait management strategy is posted on the province's Environmental Registry. If passed into law, the new rules could come into effect by the end of the year.