Commercial fisheries in inland waters in FMZ 18 are small scale operations. There are 13 commercial fishing licences covering 16 inland lakes and one riverine section (Rideau Canal, Kingston) within FMZ 18. Species commercially harvested in FMZ 18 include sunfish (pumpkinseed and bluegill), bullhead, yellow perch, rock bass, black crappie, white sucker, bowfin, and burbot (ling). Commercial food fish species also include certain non-traditional sport fish species.

A relatively new Strategic Policy for Ontario’s Commercial Fisheries was completed in 2011, and as such it is essential that the FMZ 18 Fisheries Management Plan contain commercial fisheries management objectives that are reflective of the present industry and are consistent with the new strategic direction. The policy outlines the following provincial goals and objectives for commercial fisheries management:

Goal: To develop and support commercial fishing opportunities in Ontario waters while ensuring the long term sustainability of fish populations, safeguarding ecosystem function and biodiversity, meeting Aboriginal and Treaty rights obligations and contribute to the socio-economic needs of all the people of Ontario.

To meet the goal, the Strategic Policy for Ontario’s Commercial Fisheries identified three broad objectives to guide commercial fisheries management throughout the province.

  1. Embrace ecological sustainability
    Maintain and restore ecosystem diversity and fish populations that provide for long term maintenance and restoration of resources for Ontario commercial fisheries.
  2. Sustainable economic development
    Safe and environmentally sound commercial fisheries that provide for sustainable economic opportunities.
  3. Societal and cultural values
    Commercial fisheries contribute to the social and cultural welfare of all the people of Ontario both now and in the future.

Commercial fisheries are highly regulated by MNRF. The licences include detailed terms and conditions describing waters from which fish may be harvested, species, size and quantity (quota) of fish that may be taken, fishing gear that may be used, persons who may engage in fishing under the licence, the loading, landing, handling and transportation of fish, along with the periods and times of day during which fishing operations may be conducted. Fishers provide data on landing, effort and harvest information. The harvests are monitored through daily catch reports which are also a condition of the licence. These reports are then used to assess fish population size, structure and allow for the tracking of harvests and checking against assigned licence quotas.

Commercial fisheries management in FMZ 18

FMZ 18 supports abundant populations of commercially harvested fish. MNRF and the Advisory Council identified a number of challenges to assessing and potentially identifying the need to further manage certain commercial fisheries in FMZ 18.

Challenges

  • Continued public concern over the potential reduction of fish population abundance by the commercial fishery.
  • Commercial fishing conflicts with cottage users & recreational anglers.
  • Public’s misunderstanding of how the commercial fishery is managed.
  • Continued efforts required to manage by-catch.
  • Need to better educate the public on the management of the commercial fishing industry.

The MNRF with the advice of the Advisory Council developed objectives and strategies to address the challenges and help reach the following commercial fisheries goal.

Goal:

To support the viability of existing commercial fisheries and the sustainability of associated target populations.

Objective 1:

Manage commercial fish harvest within sustainable limits.

MNRF and the Advisory Council agreed that continuing to monitor FMZ 18’s commercial fish harvest, and conducting annual reviews of the fishing quotas, is a priority. One of the key management challenges facing this objective is that most of the lakes with commercial fisheries are not included in our current BsM program.

Strategies to address the objective include:

  • develop a monitoring program for commercially fished lakes and rivers using appropriate netting protocols (e.g. BsM and NSCIN)
  • compile and analyze fishery-dependent data
  • review licence quotas and conditions on an annual basis
  • meet with commercial fishers on an annual basis to review harvest levels and discuss licence quotas and conditions

Objective 2:

Maintain or reduce current levels of commercial fishing by-catch.

FMZ 18’s commercial fisheries are highly regulated and the harvest is also closely monitored. In 2008, new licence conditions were implemented to, among other aspects, significantly reduce by-catch. All licenced commercial fishers are also implementing additional by-catch mitigation measures (modified netting locations, time periods, modifications to equipment used, etc.). MNRF and the Advisory Council agreed that continuing to monitor and address FMZ 18’s commercial fishing by-catch levels, is a priority.

Strategies to address the objective include:

  • encourage the continued use of an adaptive management approach to reduce by-catch

The goal, objectives and strategies have been summarized in Table 11.

Table 11: commercial fisheries summary

Adapted from tabular format.

Commercial fisheries goal:

To support the viability of existing commercial fisheries and the sustainability of associated target populations.

Objective 1.

Manage commercial fish harvest within sustainable limits.

Strategies
  • Develop a monitoring program for commercially fished lakes and rivers using appropriate netting protocols (e.g. BsM and NSCIN).
  • Compile and analyze fishery-dependent data.
  • Review licence quotas and conditions on an annual basis.
  • Meet with commercial fishers on an annual basis to review harvest levels and discuss licence quotas and conditions.
IndicatorBenchmarkTargetProgress reviewed by

Median (area weighted – BsM) commercially harvested species CUEW (commercially fished lakes):

  • BsM
  • NSCIN

Current kg/net

Current kg/net

BsM Cycle 3

BsM Proportion of commercially fished lakes where Biomass ratio (B/Bmax) is > 0.5

Current % of lakes

Current % of lakes

BsM Cycle 3

Proportion of commercially fished lakes where Mortality rate ratio (Z/M) is < 2:

  • BsM
  • NSCIN

Current % of lakes

Current % of lakes

Year end

Harvest levels of individual commercial fisheries (from Daily Catch Reports)

% harvest of quota of targeted species

Total harvest of targeted species above 60% of allocated quota

Year end

Objective 2.

Maintain or reduce current levels of commercial fishing by-catch.

Strategies
  • Encourage the continued use of an adaptive management approach to reduce by-catch.
Progress reviewed by

Year end

IndicatorBenchmarkTarget

By-catch levels of individual commercial fisheries (from Daily Catch Reports)

Current by-catch levels of individual commercial fisheries (from Daily Catch Reports)

Maintain or < Current by-catch levels of individual commercial fisheries (from Daily Catch Reports)