The province's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is still seeking public consultation as it ponders changes to walleye limits on Lake of the Woods.
Earlier this month, the province released its Lake of the Woods draft recreational walleye plan, which identifies two potential options to change regulations for the size and number of the popular sport fish that can be kept.
The province's preferred option would be to limit the daily catch and keep limit for anglers with a sport licence to two, down from four, with the fish must either be 43 centimetres or smaller, or one larger than 70 centimetres. Anglers with a conservation licence would only be able to keep one fish, which must be smaller than 43 centimetres.
The possession limit would remain at four with a sport licence, and two with a conservation licence, though the size requirements would change.
An alternate option would also reduce the daily catch and keep limit, but the acceptable size limit would change to fish between 35 and 43 centimetres in length.
The ministry partnered with various stakeholders, forming the Lake of the Woods Fisheries Advisory Council in 2021 to record and evaluate walleye population data while recognizing the social and economic importance of the fishery, consistent with the directions of Ontario’s Provincial Fish Strategy.
The province said their monitoring data shows the walleye population is currently at a high level of harvest, which risks the future of the fisheries.
Identified ecological issues include the lack of buffers against invasive species, increased harvest, and climate change. Walleye in the lake appear to be below the benchmark biomass, and have high mortality rates with few old fish.
The ministry said 16 potentially affected Indigenous communities have been contacted directly for comment. Following consultation, a final version of the Lake of the Woods Draft Recreational Walleye Plan will be posted on the Environmental Registry for Ontario, along with a decision notice.
This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on January 9, 2023, and to submit a comment, click on the link.