SCUGOG: The population of Walleye fish in Lake Scugog is declining at an alarming rate, members of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources told Scugog council at their meeting on Monday, April 27.
“There has been a decline in Walleye across the Southern region basically, but of the six lakes monitored by the Kawartha Lakes fisheries assessment unit, none have seen a decline like Scugog,” Ministry management biologist Ilsa Langis said.
Some of the factors that the ministry mentioned as to why there is a decline include Walleye having to compete with other fish in the lake for habitat, more dominant fish preying on the Walleye, overfishing that happened in the 1980’s and 1990’s and an increase in water quality on Lake Scugog causing Walleye to lose their competitive advantage over other fish.
Walleye are not native to Lake Scugog. They were first released into the lake approximately 50 years ago.
The ministry also outlined two possible solutions to the problem, either close the winter season for Walleye fishing or to implement a year round season closure. Both options would be enforced by conservation officers.
Scugog Mayor Tom Rowett said that it is a shame that the situation has become this bad for Lake Scugog’s walleye population, and lamented the possible negative effect the shortage may have on Scugog’s outdoor tourism industry, as well as the many local residents who fish on the lake.
“It’s a tourist attraction, as well as a lifestyle for many of our residents. I must add that Walleye is my favourite fish to consume, so it is sad to see that this is the solution that Kawartha Lakes fisheries is going to have to go with,” he said.
A public meeting was held at Scugog Memorial library on Tuesday, April 28 regarding the issue. The ministry members said they are going to weigh all options and public input before making any decision. The changes to the regulations will be announced in the Fall.