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Boreal Community Media

Ontario rolling out new rules for baitfish and leeches when fishing

Oct 09, 2021 06:21AM ● By Editor
From - October 8, 2021

Ontario is rolling out new rules related to the use and movement of baitfish and leeches when fishing in the province. This is all part of the province’s plan to prevent the spread of invasive species as well as diseases like viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) that can devastate Ontario’s fish stocks.

Starting on January 1st, 2022, Ontario will be divided into four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) —Northwest, Northeast, Central and Southern. Anglers, if you live in the zone where you are fishing, you will be permitted to harvest and use baitfish and leeches in that zone. If you are fishing outside the zone in which you reside, then you will need to purchase and use baitfish and leeches from the BMZ where you are fishing.

Baitfish and leeches can only be moved within the BMZ where they were harvested or purchased, with some exceptions, including moving baitfish and leeches into an adjacent Great Lake or a portion of the Ottawa River.

Anglers fishing in their home BMZ should be prepared to show government issued identification to demonstrate their place of residence. Anglers using live bait outside of their home BMZ must purchase their baitfish and leeches and can keep them for up to two weeks. They must also keep a legible receipt after you have purchased them to show to a conservation officer.

These changes come after years of research, data collection and consultation with anglers in the province. Anglers are also reminded to:

  • Safely dispose contents of your bait container at least 30 metres from any lake, pond, river or stream
  • Dispose of fish waste, heads and tails in the garbage, not waterways, when cleaning fish
  • Put unwanted roe or baitfish in the garbage
  • Empty livewells and bilges away from water, where the water will be absorbed into the ground
  • Inspect and disinfect your gear, if necessary

Check for updates on BMZs.

To see the original report and read more outdoors reporting, follow this link to the website.

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