Should These Rules Be Changed?

Catch and release fishing is popular with recreational anglers in Ontario and is important to both fisheries management and the angling experience. Anglers and stakeholders have told us that being able to hold a fish long enough to take a picture and measure the length and weight of their catch is important.

Currently, under the Ontario Fishery Regulations, 2007, anglers are required to immediately release any fish where retention or possession is prohibited. If the fish is alive, it must also be released in a manner that causes the least harm. A survey to record feedback has been created by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

There are many reasons why retaining or possessing a fish might be prohibited, including fish was:

  • caught out of season
  • over daily catch or possession limits 
  • a restricted size
  • improperly hooked (such as snagged)

Based on the way the law is currently written, any activities that delay the release of these fish such as posing for photographs, measuring and weighing are against the rules.

While the current laws allow effective enforcement seasons, catch and size restrictions, it is also a barrier to some fishing activities including:

  • catch-photo-release tournaments
  • fisheries management tools such as community science programs
  • enjoying angling experiences by photographing catches

Proposed Changes 

Proposed changes that would:

  • allow anglers to delay the release of a fish caught during the open season for that species, only long enough to photograph, measure and weigh, if the fish is of a restricted size or over daily catch and possession limits
  • require the immediate release of fish that are out of season, are species at risk or are otherwise prohibited under the existing recreational fishing rules

The purpose of these proposed changes is to improve the overall angling experience in Ontario by:

  • providing clarity to anglers on how they can document their catch and experience
  • providing opportunities to improve fisheries management
  • making community science programs more accessible
  • allowing catch-photo-release style competitive fishing events

Science experts have been engaged to help understand the risks of catch and release fishing and the proposed changes. The changes proposed are believed to be relatively low risk to both individual fish and fish populations.

If you would like to take the survey, here is the link:

See the full story courtesy of the Government of Ontario.

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