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NWOTA favours proposed fish limit cuts

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While the deadline for public input into the proposed cuts to fish limits in Northwestern Ontario already has passed, the Northwestern Ontario Tourism Association wanted to add its name to the list of those in favour of the move.

“Absolutely because, in the long term, it will be a benefit to the resources,” NWOTA president Donna Hanson said Friday morning.

“More people are fishing, and with technology, it’s becoming easier to fish,” she noted.

The proposed changes include reducing the daily catch limit for walleye, bass, and northern pike from six to four.

The Ministry of Natural Resources was seeking input on the proposed changes, which were developed by a committee representing the ministry, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), and the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters (NOTO).

The deadline for public response was March 5, which had been extended several times from the original Dec. 5 one. The information received is now being analyzed, with a meeting slated for the end of the month to discuss a final decision.

The cuts, if passed, are expected to contribute to a reduced harvest, improved conservation of the resource, and improved social and economic benefits.

Benefits will vary from “positive” to “neutral” from one lake to another, depending on the status of the resource, said the MNR, adding it expects anglers and the tourist industry will respond by promoting live release so quality fisheries will be developed for the future.

Hanson also said she felt the depletion or over-harvest of fish varies from lake to lake in the Northwest Region, which includes some 75,000 lakes larger than 10 hectares.

“I think it’s different all over the region. Some lakes have problems while others are healthy,” she added.

Gerry Fisher, who owns Grassy Narrows Camp on Lake of the Woods, said the NWOTA decision in favour of the proposed cuts was a simple one.

“I’m personally in favour of it for our children, in that we have one of the best fisheries in the world and I would like to maintain that [distinction],” he said.

“I want to see some kind of limit.”

Fisher vehemently downplayed the notion the reduced limits would affect his business, saying those who come to his camp are there to simply “catch” fish rather than keep them.

Another NWOTA member, who asked not to be identified, said the organization was “very” concerned with fish stocks, and alluded to the recovery of Rainy Lake as a case in point to the benefits of reducing the daily catch.

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