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MNR wanting anglers to know the laws before heading out

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Local Ministry of Natural Resources officers are asking fishers to obey the law this season.  They say most anglers understand and follow Ontario’s Fishing Regulations, but every year conservation officers see some common violations committed by anglers that can be easily avoided.  There are 10 common and preventable fishing violations including angling during closed times.  It is an offence to even attempt to catch any fish species during the closed season for that species – even if you are planning on releasing the fish immediately.  Please refer to the Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary or contact your local Conservation Officer or MNR office if you have a question regarding the fishing regulations in your area.  Below is a complete list of the top ten fishing violations the MNR deal with every year:

1. Transport of live fish, other than baitfish, taken from Ontario waters by sport fishing. A special licence is required from MNR to transfer live fish or live spawn from one body of water to another or to transfer or stock any fish into Ontario’s waters. These regulations are in place to prevent the harmful movement of native species, and the introduction of invasive fish species, fish parasites or fish diseases into new waterbodies.

2. Fishing without a licence. Everyone who wishes to fish in Ontario must have a fishing licence. There are some special provisions where other documents such as a disabled person parking permit issued under the Highway Traffic Act and a CNIB Identity Card can take the place of a fishing licence,. As well, if a resident of Ontario or Canada is under the age of 18 or over the age of 65, any licence, permit, certificate or ID card issued by any province, territory or Government of Canada that shows their name and date of birth is deemed to be a fishing licence.

3. Possessing more fish than permitted by your fishing licence or the fishing quota. Catch and retain and possession limits may vary by region, fisheries division, individual body of water, or even parts of a body of water. You must determine your “daily” fishing limit for the waters you intend to fish and follow these limits. Remember you may only catch your own limit – there are no provisions for “party” fishing or for excluding fish that you may have consumed or plan to consume that day.

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4. Angling with more than the permitted number of lines. Depending on the part of Ontario where you are angling, you may be permitted to use one or two lines.  The number you can use may vary depending on whether you are angling in open water or through ice, from a boat or from shore, while trolling or stationary, or even what waters you are angling in. You must ensure that you know the equipment restrictions and comply with these rules.

5. Failing to carry fishing licence on person. It is an offence not to carry your licence with you when you are angling or to fail to produce your licence to a conservation officer on request. Even if you have a licence you may be charged with this offence if you leave your licence at home or in your vehicle. Always check to ensure you have your fishing licence with you before you hit the waters!

6. Angling during closed times. It is an offence to even attempt to catch any fish species during the closed season for that species – even if you are planning on releasing the fish immediately. Bass are particularly vulnerable to closed season angling and thousands, perhaps millions of bass fry are lost annually because of this unlawful practice.

7. Fishing during closed time in a fish sanctuary.  There are more than 800 sanctuaries in the province where fishing is prohibited, either on a seasonal or year round basis. You must ensure that your fishing does not take place in any of these areas during the closed time for fishing.

8. Possession of fish cut or packed so that species, numbers, or size limits (where applicable) cannot readily be identified.  Every year conservation officers seize literally tons of fish that are not properly packaged for transport. If an officer cannot easily determine species and numbers of your fish, it is impossible to determine whether or not you may be in compliance with the regulations and you may needlessly lose your fish.

9. Retention of illegal size fish.  Size limits are intended to ensure that the primary breeding size fish are returned to the waters in order to maximize reproductive capacity. If you keep illegal size fish, you are doing harm to the future of the fishery you wish to enjoy.

10. Improperly transporting or using bait.  Harmful aquatic plants and animals and infectious fish diseases such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) may be spread unknowingly by anglers who are not following the rules around transporting and using bait. Anglers cannot release bait or baitfish or empty the contents of a bait bucket within 30 m of any waters.  It is against the law to import crayfish, salamanders, or live leeches or fish into Ontario for use as bait and you cannot transport live fish other than baitfish without a licence. Live crayfish can only be used for bait in the same waterbody where they are caught and cannot be transported overland dead or alive.

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