MNRF are proposing changes to the recreational catch limits and size limits for walleye in Lake of the Woods in order to address risks to the quality of the fisheries.
The MNRF monitoring data on Lake of the Woods indicates that the walleye population is vulnerable to continued high-levels of harvest to the point where the current harvest poses a risk to the quality of the walleye fishery. Specifically, there are three ecological issues of concern:
- harvest rates are high and impact the population’s ability to buffer against pressures such as invasive species, increased harvest and climate change
- observed biomass of walleye is below the benchmark biomass
- mortality rates are high and there are few old walleye in the population
Taken together, these issues suggest the walleye fishery is at risk in the long-term. At the same time, the ministry recognizes the importance of the walleye fishery to the social and economic wellbeing of the communities in the Lake of the Woods area and is committed to balancing conservation and socio-economic considerations.
MNRF has partnered with several local Indigenous communities, tourism operators, municipal government and recreational users to form the Lake of the Woods Fisheries Advisory Council. Since January 2021, this group has been meeting to develop the Lake of the Woods Draft Recreational Walleye Plan to improve the status of the walleye population while recognizing the social and economic importance of the fishery.
Operators in this area are strongly encouraged to review the draft plan and proposed regulatory changes and submit comments.
Individuals have until January 9th, 2023 to submit feedback using this link: https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-6067