All public awareness, education and participation in the fisheries management objectives, as they pertain to various fish species management strategies, are summarized in this section. They include strategies which will be key components to successfully implementing the FMZ 18 Fisheries Management Plan.

The development and delivery of education material is important to gain public support for management actions, as will public participation in implementing some of the plan’s actions.

Partners in the production and dissemination of educational materials could include conservation and/or fishing clubs, lodge owners, stewardship councils, outdoor writers, tourism associations, chambers of commerce and FMZ 18 Advisory Council members. Materials could be shared at fishing shows, with local media and at provincial parks.

A wide range of topics should be addressed to promote public awareness and understanding. These include among others, the impact of invasive species introductions, climate change and shoreline development.

Invasive species

Zebra mussels have been introduced into many FMZ 18 lakes and have increased water clarity and decreased the amount of available nutrients. The amount of habitat available to light sensitive species such as walleye has decreased and the predation of young walleye has increased. Water clarity is thought to have reduced the productivity of walleye in inland lakes (Lester et. al., 2004).

Climate change

Climate change is causing lakes to be more suitable for warm water species such as bass and less suitable for cool and cold water species such as walleye and lake trout, respectively. These types of impacts have caused shifts in fish communities and have reduced the capacity of these lakes to produce as many walleye or lake trout as were historically produced.

Lake trout

The life history and ecology of lake trout, which also plays into the capacity and ability of lake trout populations to respond to changes, needs to be conveyed to the general public. Lake trout are very long lived species which are also late to mature. Therefore, their capacity to “rebound” from a decline is very limited and effects of changes to habitat or harvesting practices may not be seen for decades. Thus a long term perspective for managing lake trout populations is essential.


It is important to educate the public on the benefits of harvesting bass and panfish, especially in fisheries primarily managed for walleye or lake trout, in an effort to help restore the balance in many shifting fish communities.

The science supporting the sustainability of competitive fishing tournaments of bass fisheries should also be more broadly shared with the public.


To gain public support for a relatively recent harvest regulation, it is important to educate the public on the benefits of a selective harvest system, as well as on the benefits of harvesting (smaller) panfish. These measures not only help restore the balance in many shifting panfish populations, but also direct harvesting pressure away from species that are showing signs of harvest stress.


Catch and release rates for muskellunge have increased dramatically over the past 30 years, due to the combination of increased regulation and the voluntary action by anglers. Muskellunge anglers commonly release in excess of 99% of muskellunge angled in Ontario (Kerr, 2007).

Muskellunge are targeted to a limited extent in competitive fishing events. MNRF, in concert with Muskies Canada, developed a series of guidelines (OMNRF 1999) for muskellunge competitive fishing events in Ontario. These guidelines should be utilized for all competitive events targeting muskellunge in FMZ 18.

Fish diseases

Northern pike populations in FMZ 18 are known to be susceptible to a number of pathogens. Lymphosarcoma is a viral disease affecting esocids (muskellunge and northern pike) of spawning age. The disease is highly contagious and is usually fatal to fish within one year. Lymphosarcoma is believed to spread by direct skin contact during spawning. Current infection rates are not believed to represent a threat to the sustainability of the fishery, but continued monitoring efforts are required.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) is a viral disease that has, in recent past, been discovered in fishes in the Great Lakes, including a number of species in Lake Ontario. VHS is considered to have been a factor in muskellunge die-offs on the St. Lawrence River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. Although it is unclear to what extent northern pike may be susceptible to this particular disease, the connectivity of many of FMZ 18’s lakes to Lake Ontario / St. Lawrence River, the mobility of anglers and recreational boaters increase the susceptibility of these lakes to the introduction of an invasive pathogen. A number of other fish diseases are also of potential concern in FMZ 18 and may be spread by vectors similar to invasive species. See the Invasive Species and Diseases Management Strategy Section for more details.

Commercial fisheries

Commercial fisheries are sustainable and highly regulated. Changes in recent years from invasive species, climate change, shoreline development, and shifts in fish communities has potentially increased the capacity of most, if not all of our commercial fisheries, to produce the commercial food fish species under commercial licence.

It is important to educate the public on the management of commercial fisheries, to gain public support.

Coldwater species

It is important to educate the public on the impacts of climate change; and the benefit of limiting or preventing detrimental impacts to critical cold water habitat.

The MNRF with the advice of the Advisory Council developed an objective and strategies to help meet the fisheries management plan’s public awareness, education and participation in fisheries management needs.

The objective and strategies have been summarized in Table 13.

Table 13: public awareness, education and participation in fisheries management summary

Adapted from tabular format.

Objective 1:

Increase public awareness, education, and participation in fisheries management.

Performance measures:

  • # of public education materials published
  • # of stewardship projects initiated
  • # of agencies provided with information
  • # of opportunities developed
  • # of participating stakeholders

Progress reviewed by:

BsM Cycle 4


Strategies for all species:

  • work with partners to develop and deliver educational material addressing:
    • reduced productive capacity of certain populations (e.g. walleye, lake trout)
    • benefits of selective harvest
    • benefits of new regulations
    • effects of climate change
    • effects of invasive species
    • benefits of reporting resource violations to MNRF tips line
    • harvest of predator/competitor species (e.g. bass, panfish)
    • various species management, if required
    • science supporting the sustainability of competitive fishing tournaments of bass fisheries
  • report changes to aquatic ecosystems
  • promote and encourage the reporting of natural resource violations to MNRF tips line
  • work with partners and stakeholders to increase “angler access” to various fisheries (e.g. boat launches, signage to various access points, developing public access agreements, etc.)

Strategies for specific species:

Lake trout, muskellunge, and northern pike
  • Improve communications with other agencies involved in fisheries and fish habitat management, and include knowledge from local community groups.
  • Discourage harvest of long-lived, large- bodied individuals.
Bass, muskellunge, northern pike, and coldwater species
  • Promote catch and release and fish friendly handling techniques to the general public and schools.
Lake trout, muskellunge, northern pike, and coldwater species
  • Report on the status of the fisheries and aquatic ecosystems (e.g. impacts from climate change, invasive species, etc.).
Lake trout, bass, and panfish
  • Use science to enhance public understanding and support for species management decisions.
Coldwater species, and forage fish
  • Promote best practices in the handling, transportation and disposal of baitfish.
  • Engage angling clubs to collect scales, spines and sex data.
  • Work with First Nations to implement best management practices for harvesting walleye.
Lake trout
  • Incorporate science information related to lake trout ecology, threats and management challenges in educational materials.
  • Engage angling clubs and/or cottage associations to collect genetic information and data (i.e. volunteer angler diaries).
  • Work with partners/stakeholders to educate anglers regarding sunfish reproductive biology.
  • Work with partners/stakeholders to develop educational products to promote sunfish angling opportunities and management.
Coldwater species
  • Work with partners/stakeholders to promote the importance of preventing fish introductions into simple coldwater fish communities.
Forage fish
  • Work with partners/stakeholders to promote the importance of forage fish to sport fish.

Strategies for commercial fisheries

  • Work with partners/stakeholders to educate cottage associations and the public regarding the rules of licencing commercial fishers.

Strategies for invasive species and diseases

  • Work with partners/stakeholders to promote the prevention and reduction of the spread of invasive species and pathogens (diseases) among various resource users.
  • Continue to work with and support the Invading Species Awareness Program and Invasive Species Monitoring Program at a local level.
  • Work with partners/stakeholders to distribute invasive species and pathogen information materials at public events and other consultation initiatives.
  • Work with partners/stakeholders to encourage the distribution of invasive species and pathogens information materials at locks along the Rideau Waterway.
  • Communicate the rules and regulations regarding the unauthorized introductions.
  • Encourage anglers to use live bait captured within the watershed they are fishing (i.e. purchase local bait).