The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is working to address a fish virus known as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed that VHS has been detected in several species of fish from Lake Simcoe. MNR is establishing a new management zone around the Lake Simcoe watershed to address the potential spread of VHS to other inland waters and the spread of invasive species to Lake Simcoe.
As a result, commercial bait operators will be prohibited from moving commercial baitfish into or out of the new Lake Simcoe Management Zone beginning January 1st 2012. Anglers are asked to buy baitfish when they arrive to fish in the Lake Simcoe area and not take baitfish out of the area.
The geographic range of this virus in Ontario waters has expanded recently. The virus was first detected in Lake Ontario in 2005. To determine its range, the CFIA has been monitoring Ontario and Quebec waters since 2007.
VHS is a virus that can weaken and kill fish. Not all fish carrying the VHS virus show signs of disease. As with any dead or dying fish or wildlife, pets should not be allowed to eat or come into contact with them. Fish carrying the VHS virus pose no risk to human health.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is committed to discussing long-term strategies to maintain a healthy fishery and bait industry with input from key stakeholders and the public.
In response to the initial discovery of VHS in Ontario, the government set up the VHS Management Zone.
The new Lake Simcoe Management Zone is separate from the VHS Management Zone.
The ministry, in partnership with the CFIA, monitors VHS in Ontario by sampling high risk lakes, studying fish die-offs, and conducting random sampling across the province.
Find out more about Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia.
Read about the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.