FROM SHAD FLIES TO WALLEYE, OUR ECOSYSTEM HAS SUFFERED AFTER 50 YEARS OF HARMFUL HYDRAULIC DAMS AND NOT ENOUGH WATER.

BOBCAYGEON SPAWNING BED EARLY APRIL 2018—COMPLETELY OUT OF THE WATER!

Moose Country Minute

by Mark Bonokoski | Outdoor Journal April 21 2018 | 2:00

2018 Interview: Save the Walleye

by Angelo Viola | Outdoor Journal RADIO | 14:41

2017 Interview: Save the Walleye

by Angelo Viola | Outdoor Journal RADIO | 12:40

The Kawartha Lakes walleye fishery is collapsing!

The Trent-Severn Waterway doesn’t provide enough water for fish to survive (or frogs or snails or turtles or shad flies…) The bays drain dry. The spawning beds are exposed. The marshes don’t get washed with natural spring freshet so they’re over-silted and filling in with weeds. We need water!

Demand the Trent-Severn Waterway STOP KILLING OUR WALLEYE (and other aquatic life) by dropping water levels too low for survival.

  • We need a policy change to water management that respects the life under the waterline!
  • mandate walleye-friendly water levels and flows during spawning (March/April)
  • maintain a higher minimum water level year round for the health of the ecosystem.
  • use the stop log dams more and the harmful push-button hydraulic dams less.
  • allocate a small portion of the infrastructure money given in 2015 ($285 million) or a small portion of hydro power revenues to cover the cost of the required (expensive) Parks Canada contamination studies, research permits, in-water work permits, and construction to fix the spawning beds.

The MNRF does not put pressure on the TSW to maintain minimum water levels or flows. The MNRF does not enforce regulations or educate the public. The MNRF keeps winter fishing open in Zone 17 to realize revenue—$Millions in licensing money, and for what? We want our licensing money to go to work in Zone 17!

Demand the MNRF do its job—protect the fishery!

  • put pressure on the TSW who push the buttons (it shouldn’t be a top-down relationship!)
  • enforce its own regulations.
  • educate with signs and literature.
  • say yes to river spawning bed enhancement to support existing and stocked fish populations. Support our pilot projects in Bobcaygeon and Lindsay!
  • do something about the exploding pan fishery and low walleye numbers (walleye stocking)
  • close the winter “pan fishery.” Anglers aren’t fishing for panfish in winter! Why not? Because Bluegill don’t digest food in winter (so they don’t eat), and it’s extremely difficult to catch Crappy in winter. Keeping a pan fishery open in winter to decrease panfish numbers is laughable. Winter fishing won’t change the exploding bluegill numbers. What winter fishing does do is create an unenforced season of walleye poaching. Poaching of walleye in winter is rampant and destructive. Winter fishing is destroying what’s left of the walleye population. Winter fishing must close in Zone 17!

 

Remember this?

When was the last time you saw a kid walking down the road with a fishin’ pole over his shoulder?

Fishing got too hard. People gave up. And now, an entire generation has lost the thrill of “goin’ fishin’.” It’s time to bring it back!

Remember this?

When was the last time you saw a kid walking down the road with a fishin’ pole over his shoulder?

Fishing got too hard. People gave up. And now, an entire generation has lost the thrill of “goin’ fishin’.” It’s time to bring it back!

We are losing the culture of fishing in the Kawartha Lakes.

Article by Alana Mitchell about how good it used to be to go fishing—something kids don’t do anymore—and how bad things are now.

“But it’s not just numbers of fish that are changing. In Canada, the number of anglers is waning. More than one in five Canadians was fishing for sport in 1975, according to the federal survey. By 2010, the number was less than one in 10 …That’s despite the fact that the country’s population had grown by nearly half over those same three and a half decades.”

“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! 

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 Jeff Yurek, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry along with a letter that demands the Ministry fulfill its own mandate to protect and sustainably manage our walleye.

Put pressure where it’s needed to spark action! We demand the MNRF support humane measures to protect our walleye! And we demand the TSW stop draining the lakes so low every winter!

The walleye population has declined dramatically since the hydraulic dams replaced stop logs in the 1960s. Walleye have suffered:

—habitat loss,
—low winter water levels (suffocation),
—exposed spawning beds during spring spawning,
—an unsuccessful slot-size regulation,
—an unenforced summer fishery,
—an unenforced winter fishery,
—poaching,
—invasive species,
—an exploding panfish population (bluegill), and
—the detrimental effects of bottom-scrubbing, high-velocity hydraulic dams (these dams move cold, low-oxygen water from the lake bottom instead of warmer surface water).

We need a higher minimum water level and a year-round minimum flow spilling over the stop log dams to move warmer, high-oxygen surface water downstream (which will improve water quality, help prevent blue-green algae, and improve the overall health of the ecosystem).

Fisheries are collapsing across Canada, but we can save our walleye fishery (and the species in the ecosystem suffering the same harm)! It’s time to repair the spawning beds, get water over them, and start using the stop logs to manage water. Help me save the walleye!

stories

want to know what’s really going on?

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Calling on all concerned anglers, ecologists, conservationists, environmentalists, hydrologists, and the fed up public!

TSW — NATURE COMES LAST:

The Trent-Severn Waterway opens the push-button hydraulic dams and drains our lakes to unnaturally low levels. The spawning beds are out of the water. Stop log dams supported a healthy fishery for 130 years before the hydraulic dams were installed in the 1960s—but the stop logs aren’t used.

After 50 years of harmful hydraulics, the fishery has declined greatly. So have other species (frogs, insects, snails…). We need a higher minimum water level year round, water over the spawning beds throughout spawning, and more use of stop log dams! The health of our ecosystem depends on it! Tell the Minister directly using the button below!

 

MNRF — COMPLETE INACTION:
After years of inaction and a shameful lack of enforcement, the MNRF watches as the walleye population plummets to extinction in the Kawarthas. No one reports widespread fishing violations anymore because PBoro MNRF doesn’t have the manpower (or the desire) to do anything about them. Poaching is horrible. Winter fish kills from lack of water have been devastating. Spawn-sized fish aren’t thrown back.

Help me get the MNRF to do its job. Report fishing violations like poaching, illegal fish size, fishing out of season, keeping too many fish, fishing walleye in winter, and fish kills directly to the Minister using the button below.

(Use the button above to contact the Ministers. Your email will also go to MNRF Peterborough, Trent-Severn Waterway HQ, and to me, MP Jamie Schmale! I’ll keep a record and follow up on your behalf.)

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change for Canada (MOE)

CATHERINE MCKENNA
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca

200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Telephone: 819-938-3813
Fax: 819-938-9431


Trent-Severn Waterway Headquarters in Peterborough

JEWEL CUNNINGHAM
Ont.Trentsevern@pc.gc.ca

2155 Ashburnham Dr.,
Peterborough, ON K9J6Z6

Telephone: 705-750-4900

The new Provincial Minister of Natural Resources and Foresty (MNRF)

JEFF YUREK  jeff.yurekco@pc.ola.org

750 Talbot Street, Suite 201
St. Thomas, Ontario
N5P 1E2

Phone: 519-631-0666
Toll-Free: 1-800-265-7638
Fax: 519-631-9478


Peterborough Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry 

TREVOR GRIFFIN
Trevor.Griffin@Ontario.ca

300 Water St. Peterborough, ON K9J3C7

Telephone: 705-755-3363

MNRF feedback form
MNRF TIPS: 1-877-847-7667

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change for Canada (MOE)

CATHERINE MCKENNA
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca

200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Telephone: 819-938-3813
Fax: 819-938-9431


Trent-Severn Waterway Headquarters in Peterborough

DWIGHT BLIGHT
Ont.Trentsevern@pc.gc.ca

2155 Ashburnham Dr.,
Peterborough, ON K9J6Z6

Telephone: 705-750-4900

The new Provincial Minister of Natural Resources and Foresty (MNRF)

JEFF YUREK  jeff.yurekco@pc.ola.org

750 Talbot Street, Suite 201
St. Thomas, Ontario
N5P 1E2

Phone: 519-631-0666
Toll-Free: 1-800-265-7638
Fax: 519-631-9478


Peterborough Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry 

TREVOR GRIFFIN
Trevor.Griffin@Ontario.ca

300 Water St. Peterborough, ON K9J3C7

Telephone: 705-755-3363

MNRF feedback form
MNRF TIPS: 1-877-847-7667

It’s time to let the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (provincial) and the Minister of Environment (federal) know what is really going on!

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 [more water and  lower spawning beds] 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 [enough water to cover the beds] as there is no evidence to suggest that this action would provide positive benefits to the recruitment of walleye.”

—Peterborough MNRF

No evidence? There’s a lot of evidence! But does the MNRF really need a study to ascertain that fish don’t survive out of water?

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.

 

Water is good for fish.

  • Spawn die in spring without water over the spawning beds. Exposed, the eggs become unviable.
  • Eggs get scrubbed off the rocks if too much water is let go from bottom-scrubbing hydraulic dams.
  • The hatch die if water drops too soon before they’ve had a chance to swim up.
  • Mature fish suffocate to death in shallow areas that deplete of oxygen—where ice touches 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’S NEEDED!

The MNRF is not protecting the fishery!
The MNRF has not followed its own Fisheries Management Zone Plan from 2009:

In 2009, the MNRF brought together biologists and the public 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 has not fulfilled 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 9 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

Read the FMZ17 Fisheries Management report for yourself hereThe results of this plan are due in 2019. What has the MNRF done? Nothing.

 

What are your taxes paying for?

The MNRF’s inaction and refusal to support local efforts to improve the walleye situation is unacceptable! In Zone 17, the MNRF does not enforce its own regulations, does not do walleye counts, and does not use data provided by volunteers (Lindsay Bassmasters). The MNRF rakes in millions of dollars from licences but does not provide a ruler and pamphlet of slot sizes and legal fishing practices with each of those licences, or print posters and billboards to educate the public. And the MNRF keeps a winter fishery open that causes gross harm through poaching for increased revenue.

In the 1980s, instead of digging down the spawning bed in Bobcaygeon, the MNRF dumped aggregate on top of it, making the bed even higher! We want to fix the MNRF’s mistake and enhance the historic spawning bed below the Bobcaygeon dam. The MNRF provides every excuse not to. It’s insanity!

DEMAND A CHANGE!

The Trent-Severn Waterway draws the lakes down too far!

The Trent-Severn Waterway controls the water. Each year, navigation, public safety, hydro generation, and ecosystem impact present different challenges to water management. 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 too much, 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. In extreme years this might be true, but every year the lakes get drawn down more and more. It is a choice to hold back some water for spring spawning. That choice is not made. We need it made in a mandated way.

In 2018, we had an early melt. That was an opportunity! But instead of holding onto some of that water, it was let go. Just like every other year in recent memory. 6 feet around Sturgeon Lake was bare lakebed, and the bays were drained dry!  This cannot keep happening!

BOBCAYGEON: The TSW will consider repairing the spawning bed in Bobcaygeon. The permits required before any in-water work can be done are complex and expensive ($100-$150 000). The TSW will not cover the cost, and the environmental engineer I contacted stated that his firm could not do the required studies because of a perceived conflict of interest! What is this conflict of interest?

LINDSAY: The TSW is not against considering repairs to the Lindsay spawning area, but any work done in Lindsay will first require a contamination study as there are possible contaminants in the rockbed below the Lindsay dam. If this is the case, why hasn’t the Trent-Severn Waterway done these studies and fixed the problem if there are contaminants?!

I think the TSW should cover the cost of the studies that need to be done as part of Parks Canada’s expensive process. In 2015, $285 million dollars was given to the TSW for infrastructure repairs. The spawning beds are infrastructure repairs—natural infrastructure! I also think the TSW needs to mandate higher minimum water levels in its water management model. Otherwise, when my time is done as MP and the pressure is gone, we’ll go back to low-to-no water.

The model needs to change and stay that way for future generations.

The Plan—our pilot projects
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! The MNRF dumped rock on top of the spawning bed in Bobcaygeon 30 years ago, raising them up! We demand the MNRF help fix their mistake! The limestone shelf is too high and too smooth. The rocks are out of the water.

 

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

There are 100s of studies that show the damage the TSW is doing:

  • Use the stop log dams that span the river, spilling water over the top, providing fish-friendly flows and high-oxygen water, especially during spawning season.
  • Maintain a suitable water level during spawning season until after the hatch swims up (the month of April).
  • Use the stop logs to create a walleye-friendly flow for the hatch (the high-velocity current of hydraulic dams is harmful to baby walleye).
  • Use the stop log dams all year for the health of the ecosystem: to move warm surface water downstream, help prevent blue-green algae, 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) in the same way as stop log dams (which supported a healthy fishery for 130 years before hydraulic dams went in, destroying the fishery ever since).
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.

That was 3 years ago!

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, an unenforced summer fishery, an unenforced winter fishery, poaching, the introduction of invasive species, and the detrimental effects of bottom-scrubbing hydraulic dams.

I decided to help. Three years later, I’ve hit every wall imaginable. In 2018, we’re turning things up!

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

Larry

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

“In the past several years neither my ministry nor TSW have received any substantial reports of fish kills in the Kawartha Lakes.”

—Kathryn McGarry, then Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

How is this possible? Does it really take a cottager picking up the phone to tell the MNRF what is happening in our lakes?

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

Questions?