Special to The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: Local MP Jamie Schmale, concerned about the declining walleye population in area lakes, has launched a website in an effort to save them.
For the past two years, Jamie has tried to get the Peterborough branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to make a positive impact on the dwindling walleye fishery in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“Walleye once thrived here! Fishing lodges overflowed in towns like Bobcaygeon and Lindsay. But as the walleye population diminished, so did fishing tourism,” said MP Schmale. “It’s time to fix the spawning beds and get our fish the water they need to survive.”
The walleye fishery has suffered habitat loss, stressful 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 am disappointed, that after 8 years, the Peterborough Ministry office has not accomplished any of the items outlined in their own Fisheries Management Zone 17 plan from 2009,” said MP Schmale. “MNRF Peterborough is not fulfilling its mandate to protect and sustainably manage our walleye. There is an opportunity for both levels of government, the provincial MNRF and the federal Trent-Severn Waterway, to sit down and discuss meaningful change at the local level. But that discussion has been declined by the Peterborough MNRF. That’s why I’m turning to the public.”
The website, JamieSchmale.ca/walleye, highlights the current problems faced by walleye here, and outlines Schmale’s efforts to address those problems. It also provides a form where constituents can add their support.
“I would like to see the worn out spawning beds dug deeper in Bobcaygeon and Lindsay. They are over-silted, too smooth, and too high,” said Schmale.
“I also think water should be managed in a way that is more walleye-friendly. If we used the top-loading stop log dams throughout the year, it would improve the health of not only the walleye population but of the whole ecosystem. In April, higher water levels are needed if we hope to protect the life under the water line.”
MP Schmale asks concerned constituents to add their name to the form on JamieSchmale.ca/walleye.
All names, collected by September 1st, 2017, will be attached to a letter that will go to the Honourable Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry, demanding the Ministry fulfill its own mandate to protect and sustainably manage walleye in our lakes.
“It’s time to put pressure where it’s needed to spark action where it’s needed,” said Schmale. “Let’s give the walleye a fighting chance!”