It’s time to save the walleye! Demand the MNRF do its job!

The walleye population has declined for decades. The Ministry of Natural Resources does nothing to stop it. It’s time to fix the spawning beds and get our fish the water they need to survive. Help me save the walleye!

Radio Interview: Save the Walleye

by Angelo Viola | Outdoor Journal RADIO

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It’s time to save the walleye! Demand the MNRF do its job!

The walleye population has declined for decades. The Ministry of Natural Resources does nothing to stop it. It’s time to fix the spawning beds and get our fish the water they need to survive. Help me save the walleye!

Radio: Save the Walleye

by Angelo Viola | Outdoor Journal

Supporters

If you care about the walleye that are trying to survive in our lakes, add your support in the form below.




Your name will be added to a list of concerned citizens who care about our lakes and the walleye that are failing to survive in them. This list will go to the Honourable Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry along with a letter that demands the Ministry fulfill its own mandate to protect and sustainably manage our walleye by supporting this “Save the walleye” campaign.
Let’s put pressure where it’s needed to spark action! We demand the MNRF support humane measures to protect our walleye!

Give them a fighting chance. As a taxpayer, demand action!

The walleye once thrived. Fishing lodges overflowed in towns like Bobcaygeon and Lindsay. Now the walleye have disappeared and the tourists have gone. It’s time to turn things around!

“It would not be feasible to determine if the proposed activity had any substantive effect on walleye spawning and recruitment.”

—Peterborough MNRF   

Not feasible? If the walleye count is higher 5 years from now than it is today, it had a substantive effect on walleye spawning and recruitment!

Straightforward and affordable. But the MNRF says no.

“The MNRF cannot support the proposed changes to the flow regime at the Bobcaygeon dam as there is no evidence to suggest that this action would provide positive benefits to the recruitment of walleye.”

—Peterborough MNRF

No evidence? It’s your job to gather this evidence! Evidence comes from action!

The Problem
Fish need water to survive—but there's not enough water!

The natural high water we used to have in the spring covered the spawning beds, and provided enough water for the hatch to survive. The spring freshet also cleaned our lakes and swamps, flushing out debris and silt. When dams were built in the late 60s to control the water, things changed for the worse for our aquatic life. After 50 years of hydraulic dams and water that has been kept unnaturally low, the walleye have paid the price. But with small changes, we can turn things around.

High water is good for fish.

  • Spawn die in spring without water.
  • Eggs get scrubbed off the rocks if too much water is let go from bottom-scrubbing hydraulic dams.
  • Mature fish suffocate to death in shallow areas that deplete of oxygen or freeze to the bottom.
  • Fish who suffer low-oxygen stress can die when their metabolisms rise in spring.

All of these things contribute to walleye decline. But we are one step closer to changing how we manage the walleye in our lakes. We can still save them. Help us put pressure where it is needed.

The MNRF has not followed its own plan!

The Fisheries Management Zone Plan 2009:

In 2009 the MNRF brought together key thinkers to come up with a plan to save the walleye in our area lakes. The management strategy that came out of those meetings was a solid step in the right direction. But then…..nothing was done.The MNRF is not fulfilling its mandate to protect and sustainably manage our walleye! The Fisheries Management Zone 17 (FMZ17) plan could have improved the state of the walleye fishery, but after 8 years the MNRF has not:

  • reversed and rebuilt self-sustaining walleye populations.
  • studied how spring water level fluctuations cause recruitment failure.
  • maintained or enhanced critical habitats for walleye populations

What are our taxes paying for?

The MNRF’s inaction and refusal to support local efforts to improve the walleye situation is unacceptable!

Demand a change!

The Trent-Severn Waterway

The Trent-Severn Waterway controls the water. Each year, navigation, public safety, hydro generation, and ecosystem impact present different challenges and require different water levels. The TSW tries to balance these competing needs.

My concern is that there hasn’t been enough weight put on protecting the aquatic life. The natural flow of water is modified and controlled, and the ecosystem has had to adjust to less water than nature would have given it—especially in the spring. Aware that low-to-no water hurts the walleye spawn/hatch in spring, the TSW provides water “when possible,” admitting it’s not always possible to provide enough water to keep the spawning grounds covered until after the hatch.

The TSW is open to discussing my 2-part proposal to get walleye the water conditions they need to survive. However, that discussion depends on support from qualified professionals and the MNR in Peterborough declined support. 

The Plan
Make the beds deeper and get more water coming over the top-draw dams!

1. Fix the spawning beds:

In recent years the spawning grounds below the Lindsay and Bobcaygeon dams have been high and dry during spawning season. The obvious solution to help the walleye is to save the spawn. Without a successful hatch, the walleye population will continue to decline. The spawning beds need to be deeper! They are too high and too smooth and they’re over-silted. They are worn out and it’s time to fix them.

2. Advocate for a walleye-friendly water management strategy going forward:

  • Use the stop log dams (that spill water over the top) during spawning season.
  • Maintain a suitable water level during spawning season until after the hatch swims up (the month of April).
  • Use the stop log dams all year to move warm surface water downstream and to oxygenate the water better. See Larry Jones’ report, “Where did all the walleye go?”
  • Design new hydraulic dams to be top-loading (not opening near the bottom).
Background

In 2015 two concerned citizens, Larry Jones and Doug Coombs, came to my office. Lifetime anglers and stewards of the fish in our local lakes, they informed me how serious the walleye situation was and how the MNRF has done nothing to make things better. Nothing from the Ministry’s own FMZ17 plan of 2009 has been done. That meeting was an eye-opener.

The walleye fishery has suffered habitat loss, low winter water levels, suffocation, high-and-dry spawning beds during crucial spring spawning, an unsuccessful slot-size regulation, the introduction of invasive species, and the detrimental effects of bottom-scrubbing hydraulic dams.

I decided to help.

How important is high water to our ecosystem? Read Larry Jones’ report: “Where did all the walleye go?” It’s a great read!

Larry

How important is high water to our ecosystem? Read Larry Jones’ report: “Where did all the walleye go?” It’s a great read!

“The MNRF cannot substantiate that spawning habitat is a limiting factor for the walleye population in Sturgeon Lake/Pigeon Lake.”

—Peterborough MNRF

Not a limiting factor? The spawning habitat sits clear out of the water in April! Guess what? Fish don’t survive out of water! 

We must fix the spawning beds and push for water levels that respect the life under the water line. 

Questions?