Time to smarten up

Dear sir:
It’s a great mystery where is this sharp drop-off in the $700-million industry. This is the future that Mr. Southwick prints in his petition representing the Border Waters Coalition against discrimination in services trade.
He is filing with the United States trade rep claiming Ontario has unfairly burdened Minnesota border resorts by restricting them to zero possession of walleye while fishing in Canada.
Let me remind Mr. Southwick and the border operators that this all happened as a result of the following events:
•The U.S., Canada, Minnesota, Ontario joint sting operation in 1990 found Minnesota-based border operators over-harvesting walleyes by 450,000 pounds per year;
•The international task force (made up of the Ontario MNR, Minnesota DNR, and operators) in 1994 limited reciprocal catch of 8,000 pounds of walleye while fishing in either jurisdiction. Even though all members of the task force agreed to the limit, Minnesota would not sign on but after the meeting; and
•In 1998, Minnesota-based operators were found to be harvesting two-three times the 8,000 pounds of Canadian walleye so Ontario reduced the harvest to zero.
Ontario tourism is up slightly but this is due, in large part, to the Ontario conservation effort to limit one walleye over 19.5” implemented in 1994. More fish-producing walleyes are let go to breed more walleyes. Our fishing has never been better since this was implemented. Our guests are telling other people.
Minnesota operators continue to harvest beyond sustainable yields both with sauger and walleye. They are taking more and want more. They are harvesting at 102 percent of target yield on walleye and 131 percent of their target yield for sauger (this is data from a joint Minnesota and Ontario boundary water atlas).
If anything, their reduction in business is due to poor fisheries management. Minnesota’s limits are 14; Ontario’s is four. How long do they think they can sustain this harvest rate? Now these operators want more.
The province has implemented conservation steps that a lot of Ontario resort owners are not happy with but a majority think they will be best for our fisheries future.
Minnesota operators only have to look at how Wisconsin and their own lakes are managed, with limits that mean nothing. Catch per Unit Effort is low on everything but pan fish that you could never catch a limit.
Minnesota operators only have to look at Wisconsin and their own lakes to see how over-development has changed the lakes from a wilderness experience to theme park experience.
Ontario has taken steps to ensure this will not happen to its lakes. Minnesota operators want to exploit Ontario’s progressive practices but do not be part of it. If the operators want it so bad, let them be part of the system. Buy in Canada and stop trying to get the best of both worlds.
More than 35 percent of my guests are from Minnesota. Why are they crossing the border? It is certainly not because of the 14-fish limits. It’s because they can catch fish and enjoy undeveloped wilderness.
It’s time we smarten up. Everywhere you look, man is taking more and more of everything. Salmon on the West Coast are stressed from over-harvest. Cod on the East Coast are stressed because of over- harvest. The Ontario government has taken steps to ensure this part of the world is protected from over-development and from harvesting beyond sustainable yields.
Let’s not let it get screwed up with greed.
Signed,
Jerry Fisher


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