Manitoulin Streams receives national award

MANITOWANING—The work being carried out by Manitoulin Streams is not only important now, but is also making a very important contribution to the future of recreational fishing around Manitoulin Island and Lake Huron, says an official with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“The work being carried out by Manitoulin Streams through dedicated members and volunteers is important and making a very important impact across Manitoulin Island, the North Channel and Georgian Bay,” said Ed DeBruyn, regional director with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, at the awards ceremony and dinner last week. “These dedicated volunteers are making an important contribution to recreational fishing around Manitoulin Island and Lake Huron and are helping to keep this tradition alive for future generations,” said Mr. DeBruyn. “Through the rehabilitation work you are doing it has created a healthier economy, ecology, and good streams for the Island.”

Mr. DeBruyn presented the 2012 National Recreational Fisheries Award on behalf of the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to Manitoulin Streams representatives. Manitoulin Streams is a grassroots organization with a focus on large-scale, community-based efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems, promotion of ecosystem health, and public education.

“Recreational fishing is a tradition worth preserving and protecting for future generations,” said Minister Ashfield in a release. “Our government is proud to recognize the important role of volunteers and groups like Manitoulin Streams in helping to sustain the recreational fishing experience throughout Canada.”

“To have acquired the EA (Environmental Assessment) for rehabilitation work on all streams on Manitoulin Island is not a small feat,” said Mr. DeBruyn. He explained that since the group’s inception in 2001, volunteers have leveraged over $2 million in funding and in-kind support towards the rehabilitation of 29 major stream sites and over eight kilometres of streams, rivers and creeks. Key to the achievements of Manitoulin Streams have been their partnership with landowners, industry, fish and game clubs and governments, as well as their education efforts aimed at schools, community groups and First Nations on the importance of protecting fish habitat.

“Fish habitat that helps to keep productive and sustainable recreational fishery and had traditional worth protecting and preserving,” said Mr. DeBruyn. “The Government of Canada is proud to recognize groups like Manitoulin Streams. He pointed out recreational fishing realizes $8 billion annually in revenues for the Canada economy.

“It is your group and volunteers who have dedicated your time and efforts to ensure the work is carried out not only here, but Manitoulin Streams is a role model for other places as well,” continued Mr. DeBruyn.

The national recreational fisheries award was presented by Mr. De Bruyn to Ted Williamson, chair of Manitoulin Streams.

“This is a tremendous and great honour,” said Mr. Williamson, who said it is very important to keep in mind it is not only Manitoulin Streams that is being recognized. “But all the wonderful people we work with, the land owners, the Little Current and Gore Bay Fish and Game Clubs, and all the organizations and agencies that have been so supportive and wonderful. We have reached some of our goals but we haven’t won the cup, there is more to be accomplished.”

Seija Deschenes, Manitoulin Streams coordinator, introduced the board of directors, “who she said are an amazing group of people. They are all wonderful people and I love working for them.”

Manitoulin Streams has attained charitable status, said Ms. Deschenes, thanking the “numerous organizations which are imperative to the success of the projects.” She pointed out the group relies on partnerships and support from over 40 different groups, organizations, corporations and educational institutes that have all played a very important role in the success locally.

“And there are other people I would like to acknowledge for their support, including Paul Methner, Mary Nelder, Glenn McDougall and Bob Florean (the latter) who was the brainchild of Manitoulin Streams,” said Ms. Deschenes.

“We have come a long way,” continued Ms. Deschenes. “I would like to touch on the partnerships we have with our landowners, without them we would not be here and we are lucky to have them on our side.”

Ms. Deschenes also acknowledged the support and help Manitoulin Streams has had from the local fish and game clubs, OFAH Zone D, Lake Manitoulin Area Association, corporate sponsors such as Manitoulin Transport, its partnership with Laurentian University and College Boreal, and the many other organizations and agencies that have provided funding, municipalities that are on board and helping, and many others.

“We have had a ton of partners,” said Ms. Deschenes. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I say it takes a village to do stream rehabilitation.”

Tom Sasvari