The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) called all concerned parties to their boardroom on behalf of MP Jamie Schmale to discuss water level management and spawning bed repair as it applies to walleye survival in Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. The meeting was a positive step in the right direction, and a big thank you goes out to the OFAH for holding such a large and important meeting. Members attended from the OFAH, Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW), and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), as well as MPP Laurie Scott, MP Jamie Schmale, and the public citizens who have championed saving the walleye from the start, Larry Jones and Doug Coombs.
Spawning enhancement is a physical change. Water management is a policy change. Therefore, the more quickly achievable goal would first be spawning bed enhancement. This was the second-most important item on our campaign list.
The permit application process for these repairs was discussed. To begin spawning bed repairs and enhancement:
1. Fill out a Parks Canada Research Permit.
This involves hiring an environmental engineer to fill out the form, answering such things as how repairing the spawning beds will impact the environment, whether there are any species at risk (other than the walleye) in that area, and conducting tests like an egg drift study (to show the low egg numbers before improvements as a baseline). These tests are expensive—as much as $100,000 to $150, 000.
Thank you here goes to the Trent-Severn Waterway for outlining the application process for spawning bed enhancement in Bobcaygeon and Lindsay. Bobcaygeon, at first glance, appears to the the easier location to apply for permits and work on enhancement in light of a red flag thrown up by the TSW staff that there is a contamination concern in the soil below the dam.
Testing will need to be done. Before we can take a step we need to measure baseline recruitment, egg numbers, and hatch rates to compare with post-repair statistics. The obvious staff to conduct these tests would be biologists at the Peterborough Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. But the MNRF did not volunteer to do anything more than “provide technical advice” and help us look for some other group to help us gather required data. This was not a surprise after 3 years of hearing the same “we won’t help you in any way” lines.
The OFAH has continued to provide assistance as regards spawning bed enhancement requirements (process, materials, budget) and their guidance is appreciated!
There is much to do, but direction was achieved at this meeting, and this is good news!