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Friday, February 01, 2008

Fish tournaments no threat to lakes: report; Bass, perch stocks holding up well

Fish tournaments no threat to lakes: report; Bass, perch stocks holding up well


Fishing tournaments on Orillia's lakes aren't having a negative effect on local stock, concludes a report from the city's parks and recreation department.

For any new events, however, organizers will be asked to submit a fish management strategy, council committee decided this week.

"I think it's important for the city to put the obligation on the tournament organizers to take responsibility to ensure the participants use best practices," Coun. Joe Fecht said yesterday.

Fecht, concerned about the potential impact of a series of bass tournaments in Orillia, had asked parks and recreation to investigate the effect of catch-and-release fishing.

On Monday, city staff presented that report after consulting with Ministry of Natural Resource experts.

"They felt that bass and perch were very hardy fish," Patty Ward, the city's recreation facility supervisor, told city politicians.

Ward's report added Lake Simcoe has an "abundance of bass, particularly smallmouth bass, and the (ministry) does not have a concern about the sustainability of these stocks with the number of approved tournaments" in Orillia.

Moreover, staff accepted the conclusion that "well-run bass tournaments have little or no impact on local fish populations."

Orillia's lineup includes four weekends of catch-and-release bass tournaments between the end of June and October.

The city's perch festival, which encourages but can't mandate catch-and-release, takes place in late April.

Ward said the practices of established event organizers are known to staff, but suggested new arrivals should be asked to submit a "suitable fish management strategy."

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"Certainly, we don't expect anyone to be out on the lake checking them," Ward said.

The parks and recreation report suggests the perch festival start an education campaign regarding selective harvesting so larger female fish aren't caught.

Fecht failed to gain support for a best-practices education program that would have produced pamphlets or fact sheets for anglers during fishing events.

Coun. Ralph Cipolla questioned the logistics and expense of distributing the pamphlets: "You're looking at 3,000 to 5,000 pamphlets to hand out."

Fecht said yesterday he plans to revise his suggestion for another pitch at council next week.

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