Ministry of Natural Resources proposes baitfish rule changes

Anglers in Ontario who use live baitfish may have to deal with some new rules, if a proposal currently being reviewed is approved.

Changes on baitfish transportation a couple of years away

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry wants to hear from the public on proposed changes to baitfish use in the province.

Anglers in Ontario who use live baitfish may have to deal with some new rules, if a proposal currently being reviewed is approved.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will host a public meeting Thursday in Kenora, asking stakeholders and anglers about their opinions on a proposal to restrict the transportation of baitfish.

The goal of the legislation is to reduce disease and invasive species.

"Anglers would have to purchase their bait in the bait management zone they are fishing," said Jolanta Kowalski, a spokesperson for the MNRF.

"You're going to have to be aware of where you're getting that bait, and where you're using that bait."

The harvest and use of bait in native brook trout lakes, as well as most provincial parks would also be banned.

Kowalski said if angling in northern Ontario, bait purchased from a bait shop will have to be used by anglers in the same bait management zone in which it's caught.

She said most bait management zones are the same as fisheries management zones.

"They're going to have to remember that you can't move bait over land from waterbody to waterbody," if angling south of the French River, Kowalski said.

At this point, the changes are only a proposal. It may take a couple of years for the actual law to come into effect, as consultation will also be required with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The MNRF is inviting the public to comment on the proposal here until June 27, 2017.

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