Ontario programs designed to help hatcheries, healthy fish and wildlife habitats

GORE BAY—The Chair of the United Fish and Game Clubs of Manitoulin (UFGCM) and the coordinator of Manitoulin Streams are hopeful that new funding programs put in place by the province through the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) will provide benefits to fish hatcheries such as the one located in Gore Bay, as well as toward stream rehabilitation projects and natural habitat improvement programs.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) has partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to deliver the new Community Hatchery Program (CHP). The MNR will provide $250,000 annually over a three-year agreement for OFAH to deliver the CHP. The CHP will offer a more targeted approach to funding and technical support for Ontario’s community hatcheries.

“The MNR had previously announced that the (Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program) funding program is gone, which had been providing a $1,000 maximum-funding to hatcheries,” said Jim Sloss, chair of the UFGCM, on Sunday. “Now with the new program developed for hatcheries programs managed by the OFAH and funding of $250,000 for the next three years through the MNR, this will hopefully benefit clubs like ours. Forty-two clubs were getting CFWIP funding and I’m hoping that more money will now be provided toward hatchery projects like ours.”

Mr. Sloss pointed out the UFGCM passed a motion at its meeting earlier this month applying for $2,500 in funding through the program. “These two funding programs provide a policy change, and will, for instance, hopefully help hatcheries like ours remain in business.”

In Ontario, fish production for stocking purposes occurs at nine MNR hatcheries and many community-based fish hatcheries throughout the province. For decades, community hatcheries have enabled members of the public to actively participate in fish culture projects that stock millions of fish annually and provide direct benefits to Ontario’s fishery resources. In the past, the MNR’s CFWIP has offered funding to community fish culture and stocking projects. The CHP will use the funds typically allocated to community fish hatcheries through CFWIP to provide a new delivery process and support system specifically for community fish culture and stocking projects. The remaining annual CFWIP funding ($300,000) will be offered through another new program, the Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program (LSHRP), which will be administered by the MNR. Collectively, the new CHP and LSHRP will replace CFWIP as the government funding sources for community-based fish and wildlife projects in Ontario.

“I’m very happy the province has come out with the Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program and CHP,” stated Seija Deschenes, coordinator of Manitoulin Streams. “I was hoping there would be funds provided through this type of program for the type of work we do, and we will be applying for funding under the program.”

Ms. Deschenes said in applying for funding, Manitoulin Streams has five projects-plans it is undertaking this year. “One of the projects we have planned is for Bickell’s Creek in Gore Bay, with the help of the United Fish and Game Clubs of Manitoulin and the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club for stream rehabilitation. This project would be similar to the Norton’s Creek project, as there has been a real reduction in water levels, which has seriously affected both salmon and trout spawning. If we can do work to increase the water levels and put in trees to provide shade to reduce water temperatures and provide protected areas for the fish from predators, it will benefit. We also have plans for four projects on the Mindemoya River this summer, from the Cranston Road down.”

“Hopefully we will see some of the funds reach Northern Ontario so that with working with the fish and game clubs on the island on the fisheries it will benefit all areas,” said Ms. Deschenes.

 Tom Sasvari