Province amending baitfish regs

by Jason Bain | August 4, 2023
Salted minnows

Transporting preserved baitfish and leeches out of, into, and across baitfish management zone (BMZ) boundaries would be allowed under amended regulations introduced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) late last month.

The two-part proposal posted to the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for public feedback on July 26 until Sept. 11 would also allow temporary movement of live and dead bait out of and back into the bait management zone (BMZ) where it was acquired. Bait must still be used in the BMZ where it was obtained.

Commercial salting eyed

The ministry is also looking to allow the commercial salting of bait for sale to anglers.

“These proposed changes are intended to increase flexibility for anglers and commercial bait operators while maintaining the ecological integrity provided by the BMZ framework,” the proposal states. “They are also intended to be responsive to challenges that some anglers and commercial bait operators have experienced obtaining and/or transporting bait (e.g., where communities are located near a BMZ boundary, or in remote areas).”

As part of the consultation process, the ministry said it will need to determine what preservation methods would be permitted, such as salt, dehydration, isopropyl alcohol, or mineral oil.

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, officials stated.

Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy was finalized in 2020 and since Jan. 1, 2022, anglers and commercial operators been adjusting to new regulations that, among other things, restricted bait transport in and out of the new BMZs (with limited exceptions) to help reduce ecological risks.

Small win: OFAH

Although the amendments are coming on the heels of OFAH’s April 2023 letter to Minister Graydon Smith that outlined new approaches to bait management, OFAH Fisheries Biologist Adam Weir said “the MNRF is falling short at the commercial level.”

“The regulatory changes might be a small win for the angling community, but the bigger missing piece is effectively managing commercial bait harvesters and distributors,” he said.

To view the notice, click here

Click here for more on Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy.

For more on the OFAH’s position on the baitfish strategy, click here

Click here for more outdoors news

Sign up for our mailing list

indicates required
Email format