Lake Scugog Walleye Closure
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has decided that effective January 1st, 2016, no Walleye fishing on Lake Scugog will be allowed until further notice.
The seasons for other fish species are not affected by this decision and Lake Scugog will remain open to recreational angling under current regulations.
Where we Stand
The OFAH did not support the year-round closure of the Walleye fishery in Lake Scugog based on the information that was used to make the decision. We did not feel that all potential management options were adequately assessed.
Anglers are being singled out as being the only cause for the decline in Walleye on Lake Scugog. It can’t be shown that angler harvest of Walleye is solely responsible for the declining populations in Lake Scugog. We do know that there are a series of issues still happening that will impact Walleye populations and without addressing these issues, there may be no recovery of the Walleye population even after the closure.
Issues impacting the Walleye on Lake Scugog include:
- Invasive species, changes to the lake (i.e. water clarity, plant community), impacts to spawning habitat (i.e. siltation, seasonal water drawdowns) and lots of predators of juvenile Walleye are a few of the issues impacting the Walleye population on Lake Scugog.
- Recruitment failure (lack of juvenile fish surviving to adulthood) has been identified as a significant issue, and can’t be addressed by a fishing closure. To ensure that there is a recovery of the Walleye fishery, work needs to be carried out to determine the cause of the recruitment failure.
Let us bear in mind:
- The Walleye fishery in Lake Scugog was established through stocking between 1920 and 1940 to provide recreational fishing opportunities.
- Once a fishery is closed, it is very difficult to get it re-opened. The MNRF need to determine realistic population ‘benchmarks’ to aim for that indicate that the fishery has recovered so that the fishery can be re-opened when these population levels have been reached.
- There was no assessment of the potential socioeconomic impacts to the local community that would result from a closure of the Walleye fishery. This should have been considered by the MNRF when making this decision.
To learn about the OFAH’s position regarding the proposal for a closure of the Walleye fishery on Lake Scugog. Please follow the below link to our Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Environmental Registry submission on the proposal.
Now that the MNRF has decided to close the fishery, we all need to work towards figuring out why this fishery failed and how we can recover Walleye populations that support sustainable fishing opportunities in the future on Lake Scugog.
The MNRF has made a commitment to conduct surveys (of habitat, spawning, and other factors) to evaluate the causes of the Walleye population decline and will use this information in the preparation of a rehabilitation plan.
A rehabilitation plan for Walleye in Lake Scugog will be developed with direct participation from the OFAH to recommend further actions to recover the Walleye population. The OFAH remains committed to the recovery of Walleye populations in Lake Scugog and will continue to work with the MNRF to ensure it remains a priority.
Stay tuned for information on how you can get involved
Information on this proposed regulation change can be found on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) registry 012-3903