Thursday, January 29, 2009


How Red Tape Works As A Fishing Line

I wrote a blog titled FISHING FOR UNDERSTANDING AND BASS on Nov. 13, 2008 about my frustrations deciphering Ontario's fishing regulations.
I also complained about the blatant fishermen around my cottage who broke even the most obvious rules about fishing seasons and catch limits .... and just about everything else.
The following is a reply to my column on Jan. 28 by Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield, the able MPP for central Etobicoke, and her staff. In her political career, this minister has shown a wonderful ability to cut through the political BS of complicated subjects. So when she says she will keep an eye on this, it's not just rhetoric.

Ontario is a vast province with thousands of lakes and rivers. Historically, fisheries were managed on a lake-by-lake basis which, over time, resulted in a complex set of regulations with thousands of exceptions. In order to reduce the complexity of regulations and make it easier for anglers to understand and follow the rules, the ministry announced a move towards a landscape management approach for recreational fishing. As part of this initiative, Ontario went from 37 fishing divisions to 20 fisheries management zones, removed hundreds of exceptions (30 per cent), provided better map products and redesigned the 2008-2009 Fishing Summary to make it more accessible and easy to understand. This is only the first step in an ongoing process.We will continue our efforts to improve the fishing regulations and we welcome your ideas and suggestions. Meanwhile, I have asked the Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission to provide suggestions on further ways to reduce the complexity of the regulations and improve the fishing summary. Our challenge is to ensure that Ontario’s fisheries are sustainable while providing effective, clear and understandable regulations.
The confusion over bass seasons in the Trent River may have arisen because there is an exception which applies only on lower Trent River waters. The open season for bass in Fisheries Management Zone 17 is generally from the 4th Saturday in June to November 15th (including the Trent River at Burnt Point). However, on the Trent River in Sidney Township upstream from the first dam above Lake Ontario, the open season for bass extends to November 30th.
Our official fishing website,, provides general information on fishing in Ontario and an up-to-date fishing summary with a list of regulatory changes since the last printing. If you ever have questions or require clarification on specific fishing regulations, you can call our Natural Resources Information Centre, toll-free by phone at 1-800-667-1940, or by e-mail at
I appreciate your difficulties with large numbers of anglers fishing close to your cottage and the frustration of observing resource abuse. We strongly recommend that any member of the public who sees or suspects an act of resource abuse should safely note as much information as possible and call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667). The information provided may be used by conservation officers in their investigations. Alternatively, they may call CrimeStoppers for anonymous reporting (1-800-222-8477).
Generally, fines for ticketable sport fishing offences range upwards from $100 while for more serious repeat offenders the penalty can be as high as $500,000 and/or a term of imprisonment under the Fisheries Act depending on the nature of the offence.
I apologize for any delay in receiving a response from ministry staff. There are standards in place for responding to inquiries promptly and I trust that your case was an isolated incident.

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