Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

By Zaynab Kanji -- Bait disposal laws have been changed to try to keep aquatic invasive species out of Lake Simcoe and other Ontario lakes.

Under the new rules:

  • No person shall release or deposit, or attempt to release or deposit, into any waters, or within 30 metres of any waters, any of the following:

(a) live or dead bait or baitfish, including fish eggs, gametes, or parts; or

(b) the water, soil or other materials in the container used to hold the materials set out in (a).

Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program says the key difference between this and previous legislation is that the rule now additionally applies to dead bait or dead baitfish and clarifies that this includes fish eggs, gametes or parts.

The new rules allow chumming (luring) fish with plant-based baits, such as corn and oatmeal, commonly used to chum for common carp and catfish.  

A new section in the legislation permits anglers to use livewells or bait buckets hung in the water to hold live bait or live bait fish, as long as the water that is being used comes from the waters where you are fishing.

If bait or bait fish have been purchased or come from another waterbody, you have to pour off the transport water and dispose of it lawfully — more than 30 metres away from a waterbody. Alternatively, the bait or bait fish can be dip-netted out before being placed in a livewell or bait bucket hung in the water where you are fishing.

The Invading Species Awareness Program says the use of bait has been proven to be a pathway for the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

There are various problematic fish, including round goby and rainbow smelt. In addition, dangerous pathogens, such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia, can be accidentally spread to new waterways when anglers illegally dispose of their leftover bait.

It is not just live bait that are a risk; dead baitfish, fish parts, or bait-holding materials such as water can have a major negative impact and serious ecological consequences for our waterways if they are not handled properly.

For the full details of these or other regulations relating to the use of live or dead bait, visit https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2007-237/

Source: Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program, a partnership between Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to address the increasing threats posed by invasive species in Ontario.

Photo by Tony Bellissimo

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