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MNR looking at Lake Huron fish stocking programs

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MNR looking at Lake Huron fish stocking programs

 

By Doug Edgar / owensoundsuntimes

February 29, 2008

 

 

The Ministry of Natural Resources is working on a five-year plan for stocking fish in Lake Huron.

 

Part of the process is a public survey that has some local outdoors clubs trying to rally anglers to ensure they are heard. Both the Lake Huron Fishing Club and Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association, which run stocking programs, have put out the call.

 

The MNR wants to hear from as wide a range of people as possible, said David Gonder of the MNR’s Upper Great Lakes Management Unit office in Owen Sound.

 

“We’re going to come up with a five-year stocking plan for Lake Huron — it’s going to be a draft stocking plan,” Gonder said. “We do have some further consultation that we need to conduct specifically around non-native species like chinook salmon that are stocked in the lake, but the effort to compile a stocking plan is focussed on all species that are stocked in the lake.”

 

Surveys have been sent out to stakeholder groups such as outdoors clubs and First Nations as well as people randomly selected from postal codes adjacent to Lake Huron. They hope people who don’t have fishing licences will fill out some of the surveys because that’s a group fisheries officials seldom hear from, he said.

 

Two separate federal agencies manage small craft and commercial harbours, respectively, but both are working to divest the federal government of harbour ownership. Both Northern Bruce Peninsula and Meaford have expressed interest in taking over their harbours.

 

In both cases, a pending First Nations land claim has limited progress in divestiture talks with the small crafts harbours branch of the Fisheries and Oceans department, Meaford Mayor Wally Reif and North Bruce Peninsula Deputy Mayor Ted Hayes said Friday. Mark Sandeman of the department’s small craft harbours branch said his agency has divested 280 of 400 harbours under its supervision since the program began in 1995.

 

New money in last week’s budget is earmarked for divesting the 120 remaining federal small craft harbours, Sandeman said. Owen Sound’s commercial harbour is managed separately by Transport Canada.

 

Owen Sound Mayor Ruth Lovell said news of federal funding for other harbours in the area is “encouraging.” It shows the federal government “recognizes the need to spend money on ports.” Except for a controversial security fence installed this fall, “nothing has been done since the early 1990s” in Owen Sound, Lovell said.

 

She and others have been scathing in public comments about the seven foot tall fence. City priorities for the harbour include testing for hazardous substances and dredging.

 

In some ways, it’s not surprising that Friday’s announcements don’t include Owen Sound because of continuing talks, Lovell said.

 

“We are negotiating with Transport Canada and certainly money is a big part of that negotiation,” she said. “Certainly, we’ve requested dredging . . . It will be dealt with and is very much a part of our talks.”

 

Negotiations about the takeover are continuing with the next meeting scheduled “in the next few weeks.” MP Larry Miller is “being kept informed” about the talks, Lovell said.

 

Divestiture talks with the city started under the previous Liberal government in 2004. Miller expects any agreement will involve federal spending on repairs.

 

“Any divestiture of any harbour facility will be turned over in suitable standards,” Miller said Friday. “If I was the mayor I wouldn’t want to be taking over something that wasn’t up to standard.”

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