Reaction still mixed over fish limit cuts

Reaction to a proposed cut to daily fish limits from six to four for most species in Northwestern Ontario continues to be mixed, with about 60 percent of those on hand at a meeting here last night voting informally in favour of the changes.
The two-and-a-half hour seminar and question-and-answer period conducted by Gord Pyzer, district manager for the Ministry of Natural Resources in Kenora, gave area anglers and tourist camp operators the chance to express their views.
And despite what had been a slow public response here in Fort Frances, local interest got a boost last night with several people taking the floor and voicing their concerns and comments.
“I’m very pleased with how it went tonight,” said Pyzer, whose presentation outlined the potential impact of the proposed changes–and the affect it would have on sustaining the “quality fishery” in Northwestern Ontario.
In fact, he said the current six-fish limit has no “biological rationale” during the 1990s, and stressed a change had to be made.
“We have to remember that these rules were developed in the 1940s,” he noted, adding the negative reaction from those in attendance was the result of a “progressive approach” to the fisheries.
“For years, we haven’t done anything and now when we want to make changes, people are taking notice,” Pyzer said.
Much of the negative reaction stemmed from what many referred to as a “tourism problem,” charging that 85 percent of the sport fishing harvest is done by non-resident anglers.
“You can’t make changes to the Canadian anglers when it’s the Americans taking all the fish and leaving,” argued Brian Dent. “Resident anglers should mean everyone in Canada.
“It seems to me that they have already decided what they are going to do,” he added
Shawn O’Donnell, president of the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club and a member of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, suggested the local club favoured the proposal.
But he quickly added the changes must be “lake specific,” pointing to the success reduced fish limits have had on Rainy Lake over the past three years.
“It’s time we protect our resource and just do something about it,” shouted one voice in the crowd.
The deadline for public response to the changes was originally Dec. 5 but that was postponed for a month due to the recent postal strike.