SubjectBait Harvesting – Occupational Authority
PolicyPL 3.03.08
Compiled by - BranchCrown Forests and Lands Policy Branch
SectionCrown Lands Section
Date IssuedJune 5, 2017
Replaces Directive TitleBuildings for Bait Harvesting Management
NumberPL 3.03.08

1.0 Purpose

This policy applies to permanent structures on Crown land, located outside of provincial parks and conservation reserves and utilized by licensed bait harvesters for legitimate bait harvesting purposes.

In some cases, bait harvesting management practices may require the availability of overnight accommodations. These accommodations may be required for licensed harvesters and designates primarily for the safety of the harvesters and for purposes of efficient bait harvesting management (e.g. economic viability by reducing extreme travel costs/time).

In conjunction with the Class Environmental Assessment for MNR Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects, and Public Lands Act policy and procedures: PL 4.02.01 Application, Review and Land Disposition Process and PL 6.01.02 Crown Land Rental Policy, the following points outlined in section 2.0 below provide standards and criteria with respect to the establishment of buildings for the purposes of conducting legitimate bait harvesting.

See section 4.0 of this policy regarding camping on Crown land by commercial bait harvesters.

2.0 Consideration of buildings for baitfish harvesting

Requests for the establishment of a building will only be considered if:

  • submitted by a licensed commercial bait harvester (licensed under the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, Ontario Regulation 664/98);

  • the site being requested is within the licensed bait harvesting area or adjacent to the licensed area (footnote 1access may suggest the best site is close to but not actually on the licensed area); and

  • the licensee provides rationale which demonstrates the need for a building as part of the management of the bait harvest area

      • e.g. there is significant travel/distance to reach the bait harvest lakes/river,
      • e.g. economic efficiencies.

Bait harvest buildings should not be permitted:

  • on lakes with existing development or lakes designated for cottaging, commercial tourism camps (e.g. outpost camps), or other uses which would result in resource management and land use conflicts without consultation and mitigation of any issues with existing users;
  • immediately adjacent to a highway;
  • on road allowances ("road allowance" means an allowance for road laid out by a Crown surveyor, including a road allowance shown on an original township survey and a road allowance included in a plan of Crown plan of subdivision);
  • in areas extensively used by the public e.g. public camping areas, access points; or
  • on or near a portage.

Note: The establishment of appropriate buffers/setback for cabins will be determined by the district through the Class Environmental Assessment for MNR Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects review.

3.0 Building construction

Only the following structures will be allowed on the authorized site.

  • Shelter/accommodations - the cabin shall not exceed 37.0 square metres (400 square feet)
  • Ancillary building for storage - shall not exceed 18.5 square metres (200 square feet)
  • Privy
  • Dock

Note: Dock construction may require separate approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). Approvals may also be required from other agencies (e.g. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada).

The licensed bait harvester is responsible for the use and maintenance of the bait harvesting building(s).

Routine maintenance, which does not increase the square footage of buildings or structures (e.g. repair porch, replacement privy), does not require consent of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The licensee is responsible to obtain consent from MNRF for major alterations or improvements, such as reconstruction.

4.0 Camping on Crown Land and other uses

Public Lands Act O.Reg. 161/17 sets out that camping for the purpose of commercial bait harvesting does not require an individual authorization under the Act. O.Reg. 161/17 defines a "camping unit" as "equipment used for the purpose of outdoor accommodation and includes a tent, trailor, tent-trailor, recreational vehicle, camper-back and any watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation."

O.Reg. 161/17 s. 7, requires certain criteria be met with respect to commercial bait harvesters camping on public lands. These criteria include:

  • The person must either be the holder of a commercial bait harvesting licence under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 or be a designate named in the commercial bait licence;
  • The person person erects, places and uses the camping unit on public lands solely for the purpose of commercial bait harvesting; and
  • The public lands that are occupied are not part of a road, trail, portage, parking lot or boat launch.

While using the bait harvesting cabin during ongoing bait harvesting, the licensed harvester, and designates may carry on any lawful activities (e.g. fishing, berry picking).

No other commercial/private use of the bait harvesting building(s) is permitted.

5.0 Occupational authority

  • Land use occupational authority for bait harvesting buildings will be by Public Lands Act land use permit. The land use permit shall contain the following condition: "This permit will remain valid as long as the bait harvesting license is in good standing and the license area remains in the valid license holder's name."
  • Rental rate for bait harvesting buildings will be established per PL 6.01.02 Crown Land Rental Policy.


6.1 Legislation

  • Public Lands Act
  • Ontario Regulation 239/13, Actvities on Public Lands and Shore Lands – Work Permits and Exemptions;
  • Ontario Regulation 161/17, Public Lands Act, Occupation of Public Lands Under Section 21.1 of the Act.

6.2 Policy

  • PL 4.02.01 Application, Review and Land Disposition Process Policy & Procedure
  • PL 6.01.02 Crown Land Rental Policy
  • Class Environmental Assessment for MNRF Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects