The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is cancelling the Lake Erie Angler Diary program at the end of 2018.
The program, in its 35th and final year, asks anglers to record fishing time, general location, and catch. Anglers also have the option of taking and submitting a scale sample.
“The number of anglers enrolled was not sufficient to provide data that could be used with any level of rigour across a landscape as large as Erie and St. Clair,” said MNRF Senior Media Relations Officer Jolanta Kowalski.
She also cited a declining interest in angler involvement and cost. The program required between $8,000 and $10,000 annually to run. Kowalski says in the future, MNRF will rely on a creel survey that moves to different locations on lakes Erie and St. Clair to assess angler success.
Although Kowalski said the ministry was not aware of any negative reactions, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Fisheries Biologist Adam Weir said the federation is disappointed.
“We recognize the cost associated with collecting and analyzing this data, but we contend the program plays an important social role by engaging people and fostering a sense of stewardship for the resource which cannot be overlooked. Since the program’s inception, anglers have been responsible for logging more than one million hours of effort,” he said.
Weir explained the program provides information on angler success and insight into fish health, reports of disease, and unusual species.
“Hunters and trappers are said to be the eyes and ears of the terrestrial landscape — likewise, anglers have their fingers on the pulse of aquatic ecosystems,” he said. “They have valuable information that can be shared to help manage our recreational fisheries here in Ontario.”
He pointed out cancelling the program also goes against the province’s fisheries strategy, which calls for collaboration and coordination. MNRF will continue angler diary programs for walleye on Lake Ontario’s Bay of Quinte and two programs on Lake Superior.