Troubled waters for Ontario walleye hatcheries

Quentin Dodd
June 19, 2015
By Quentin Dodd

The bad – the hatchery program for the Almaguin Fish Improvement Association was cancelled by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR). The good – the township of Magnetawan pushed back, the program was re-instated allowing members of the association to take some 2.3 million walleye eggs from the Magnetawan River. The eggs will be hatched into fingerlings in the club hatchery, then released into a local lake and other water that doesn’t have a natural walleye population.

         The not so good – everyone in Ontario isn’t happy yet. The Lake Nipissing Stakeholders’ Association (LNSA) has suspended its walleye egg collection, development and restocking program on the 480sq km lake. MNR officials have advised LNSA representatives that they would have to be accompanied by MNR personnel, take the fish out the water as usual, and then wait while the MNR staff completed their records and confirmed the count. Only after that would they be allowed to strip the fish of eggs and milt for the hatchery.

The vice-president of LNSA Linda Andersen, who is also the owner of the Promised Land fishing resort and camp, explained to Hatchery International, that this is because MNR claimed that association members exceeded the two million-egg limit. (Two million is the number they have been taking for the last 30 years.) Andersen maintains that this couldn’t have happened, because MNR were staff were present during the egg take last year.

         According to Andersen the MNR stance, is because of the concern about the possible eventual genetic dilution of walleye stocks in Nipissing. From her perspective, the MNR doesn’t seem to be worried about the economic benefit of the commercial fishery in the lake.

         The LNSA, like the people of Magnetawan, is taking a stand and is prepared to go to the federal level of government if necessary.

– Quentin Dodd

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