Lake of the Woods Draft Recreational Walleye Plan

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Bill or Act:
Summary of Proposal:
In the spirit of reconciliation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry acknowledges that Lake of the Woods is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and Métis of Treaty #3, and is the home of numerous First Nation and Métis communities. Indigenous communities and their members are vital and valued partners in the management of our shared resources.

Lake of the Woods is the second largest inland waterbody in Ontario (385,000 ha). It is shared with the Province of Manitoba and the State of Minnesota. Ontario waters comprise 245,000 ha (64%) of the total surface area. Lake of the Woods supports the most economically valuable inland recreational fishery in Ontario, with an estimated annual angler expenditure of $111.4 million. While this value includes recreational fishing for all species, studies show walleye is the species most sought by anglers on Lake of the Woods.

The Ontario portion of Lake of the Woods is home to over 6,000 cottages and other seasonal properties as well as more than sixty tourism businesses, including outfitters, main base lodges, campgrounds and guiding businesses. The tourism industry employs roughly 38% of the workforce in the City of Kenora. In addition, both commercial and subsistence fishing play a significant role in the lives of Indigenous people on and near Lake of the Woods, contributing to the dietary, social, cultural and economic needs of numerous First Nations and Metis communities.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) monitoring data on Lake of the Woods indicates that the walleye population is vulnerable to continued high-levels of harvest to the point where the current harvest poses a risk to the quality of the walleye fishery. Specifically, there are three ecological issues of concern:

• harvest rates are high and impact the population's ability to buffer against pressures such as invasive species, increased harvest and climate change
• observed biomass of walleye is below the benchmark biomass
• mortality rates are high and there are few old walleye in the population

Taken together, these issues suggest the walleye fishery is at risk in the long-term. The ability of the walleye population to buffer itself against unforeseen pressures in the future, such as poor reproductive years, increased fishing pressure or severe climate events, is low. At the same time, MNRF recognizes the importance of the walleye fishery to the social and economic wellbeing of the communities in the Lake of the Woods area and is committed to balancing conservation and socio-economic considerations.

We have developed the Lake of the Woods Draft Recreational Walleye Plan to improve the status of the walleye population while recognizing the social and economic importance of the fishery, consistent with the directions of Ontario's Provincial Fish Strategy (MNRF 2015).

The Lake of the Woods Draft Recreational Walleye Plan will be available on the Environmental Registry for Ontario for a comment period of 60 days. Public information centers will be hosted in Kenora and Nestor Falls in early November 2022.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
• anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are positive. The proposal is expected to reduce annual angler harvest of walleye, which in turn will improve the available biomass of walleye and the age structure of the population.
• anticipated social consequences of the proposal are neutral (non-resident anglers) to Negative (local anglers). Resident anglers are expected to be unhappy with the proposed changes as it reduces their opportunities to harvest walleye from Lake of the Woods. In the long term, the social consequences are expected to be positive, as the walleye population recovers and angling improves.
• the effects on the tourism industry were a key consideration in developing the regulatory proposal and as such the anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are neutral
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
November 10, 2022
Comments Due Date:
January 9, 2023