Recently we were informed by the Ministry of Natural Resources that we needed to take a look at a new fisheries management plan which an Advisory Council had developed for zone 4, the zone in which our camp is located.
We received two large packets of paperwork, one detailing background information for the development of a Fisheries Management Plan in Fisheries Management Zone 4 and the other packet was the actual draft of the Management Plan.
The Advisory Council consisted of two people from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, one person from the baitfish industry, one commercial fisherman, two people from Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters, one environmental person, one outdoor writer, two fishermen, one outdoor communicator and four people from the Aboriginal community.
In the background material on all the different species which the MNR has compiled, they found that in our zone 4 is the highest population of Walleye compared with all twenty zones in Ontario. Northern Pike was second highest in population of all twenty zones in Ontario.
In the Draft plan that this Advisory Council has developed it states, "The 2005 angler recreational survey revealed that a low percentage of pike are kept. The over-harvest of pike is not considered an issue in zone 4. "
The current regulation for pike is as follows:
season: open all year
Limits: Sport-4- none between 70-90-cm, not more than 1 greater than 90cm
70 cm is about 27 1/2 inches
The Advisory Council Draft further states, "Since the implementation of the current northern pike slot size regulation, many anglers have complained to OMNR that the regulation prevents the harvesting of the most desired size of northern pike for consumption. Anglers contend that northern pike below 70 cm are difficult to clean and are generally considered less desirable for consumption. Angler representatives on the Advisory Council identified the preferred size of pike for consumption as between 70-90 cm with 80 cm identified as the ideal. Anglers have indicated they want the opportunity to harvest one pike in this preferred size range. To help reduce the harvest of walleye populations, both tourism and angler representatives agreed northern pike should be promoted and encouraged as an alternative to walleye as a shore lunch and take home catch. However, some contend the current protected slot prevents anglers from consuming the most desirable size. A social management objective to provide anglers with the opportunity to consume the preferred size of northern pike was developed. "
The plan they came up with was to remove the slot and say you can keep 3 pike 60 cm (23 inches) or less and one pike greater than 60 cm (23 inches). To remove the slot is a good thing, but to cut the size you can keep down to 23 inches seems very undesirable.
It is our understanding that in zone 5 which is right next door to us, they will now be able to take 3 pike which are 29 inches or less and one greater than that size. Why shouldn't zone 4 have the same size limits?
In the quote above from their draft plan, they already stated that anglers don't like to keep and clean these smaller pike below 70 cm, then they put the limit on three of them well below that size. When it has already been established that the pike population is very high and in good health, why bring the catch and keep size down so drastically? Most people let the larger ones go anyway.
If you disagree with the plan that the Advisory Council has decided upon, you can let your voice be heard by contacting Jennifer Boyko at firstname.lastname@example.org. They plan to make a decision in early 2013.
Together we can make positive change happen.