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Hemlock

First Nation Netting on Lake of the Woods-Ontario

41 posts in this topic

The following self explanatory letter is circulating on the Internet. It was sent to Fred Hall, the District Manager of Natural Resources in Kenora, Ontario (807) 468-2528 from a retired Ontario MNR senior manager. Some names have been removed to protect confidentiality. We have since learned from several other sources of widespread dumping of dead muskies and bass that were inadvertently caught by the netters this winter.

Dear Fred,

I received a very disturbing phone call last evening from (XXX) about the extent of First Nation commercial netting on Lake of the Woods, which corroborates what many people (including myself) have been observing and reporting to you repeatedly for well over a year now.

I suggested to (XXX) that he call, and/or meet, with you as soon as possible to fill you in on the details.

As (XXX) reported, one of the principals in the new commercial fish packing plant here in Kenora, advised him that he has been shipping "40,000 pounds of a fish a week, all winter long, from Lake of the Woods."

(XXX) also related a first hand account of an Indian commercial fisherman who told him that he was taking all of his "quotas" from all the lakes he was "licensed to fish" solely from the Lake of the Woods. The commercial fisherman also suggested to Lee that this was now a common practise with many other commercial fishermen. I am sure (XXX) will relate the specifics when he meets with you.

If this is true, the harvest is entirely unsustainable and will severely threaten fish stocks in Lake of the Woods.

As you know, the accelerated level of commercial netting on the lake over the past year has been unprecedented and is cause for concern. It now appears to be totally out of control. If it continues, I have no doubt, whatsoever, that we will shortly see very serious responses within the fishery.

Indeed, if what (XXX) is relating is factual, and I have no doubt that it is, given what many of us have witnessed ourselves and reported to you repeatedly, the impact on the walleye and pike populations is unsustainable. And the effect on other species, especially muskellunge, that are being netted, killed and dumped as an unwanted by-catch is disgraceful.

If 40,000 pounds of fish a week are being shipped from the new local fish processing plant alone, the implications are unmistakable. It translates into 160,000 pounds of fish a month or over 2 million pounds a year! And that is from only one source. Given the early ice out conditions that now present themselves, if uncontrolled commercial netting continues throughout the upcoming spring spawning period, the impact on the fishery will be particularly harmful. Perhaps irreversible.

I would urge you to take immediate and responsible action to reduce and control the harvest to sustainable levels, else risk losing one of the most important fisheries in Ontario.

(signed)

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This is what was posted on Walleye central and has the names filled in and who it was from.

You beat me to the punch of posting it here!

Following is from Walleye Central:

Many of you have heard about the increased commercial fishing by the first nation on the LOTWs and other waters in NW Ontario.

I received this e-mail from Gord Pyzor (former Kenora fisheries district manager, now In-Fisherman field editor and a very knowledgeable person about NW Ontario fisheries ) this AM and it greatly conserns me.

Some of you may have seen pictures of LOTWS gill nets with rotten fish last summer. These are revolting, but are not the real problem. Nets that aren't tended soon quit fishing. Nets that are well tended fish every day are more of a problem, as these are the nets that catch fish. If the commercial fisherman is a good one He will move his nets to the fish just like you and I do when trying to catch fish. These are the nets that will decimate a fishery, not the ones with rotten fish!

Here's Gord's e-mail: He sent this to Dick Pearson, and Doug Stange and myself. I feel that the thought was to get this out and talked about.

I don't know what can be done from the US side as far as Canadian natives commercial fishing, but I think that getting this out so people are aware of the problem can't hurt.

This is going to effect everyone who fished the LOTWs and the Winnipeg River, and pretty #*^@ soom!

Doug Johnson

I'll be doing the same post on the MH site.

Here's Gord's e-mail:

"Good morning Doug, Doug, and Dick.

Regrettably, you are about to watch the dismantling and destruction of one of the greatest freshwaters fisheries of all times.

Please see below.

Gord

----- Original Message -----

From: Gordon

To: fred.hall@mnr.gov.on.ca ; Betty Wires

Cc: Robert Pye ; Dave Brown (E-mail) ; mike_reader@ofah.org ; Jerry Fisher ; donna@kingislandlodge.com ; tom.mosindy@mnr.gov.on.ca ; John Monteith ; info@nwota.com ; Gerry Cariou ; Jim.Grayston@mtr.gov.on.ca ; info@noto.net ; fishing@indianheadlodge.com

Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2005 5:31 AM

Subject: First Nation Netting on Lake of the Woods

Dear Fred and Betty.

I received a very disturbing phone call last evening from Lee Winterton (Guy Winterton's brother) about the extent of First Nation commercial netting on Lake of the Woods, which corroborates what many people (including myself) have been observing and reporting to you repeatedly for well over a year now.

I suggested to Lee that he call, and/or meet, with you as soon as possible to fill you in on the details.

As Lee reported, one of the principals in the new commercial fish packing plant here in Kenora, advised him that he has been shipping "40,000 pounds of a fish a week, all winter long, from Lake of the Woods."

Lee also related a first hand account of an Indian commercial fisherman who told him that he was taking all of his "quotas" from all the lakes he was "licensed to fish" solely from the Lake of the Woods. The commercial fisherman also suggested to Lee that this was now a common practise with many other commercial fishermen. I am sure Lee will relate the specifics when he meets with you.

If this is true, the harvest is entirely unsustainable and will severely threaten fish stocks in Lake of the Woods.

As you know, the accelerated level of commercial netting on the lake over the past year has been unprecedented and is cause for concern. It now appears to be totally out of control. If it continues, I have no doubt, whatsoever, that we will shortly see very serious responses within the fishery.

Indeed, if what Lee is relating is factual, and I have no doubt that it is, given what many of us have witnessed ourselves and reported to you repeatedly, the impact on the walleye and pike populations is unsustainable. And the effect on other species, especially muskellunge, that are being netted, killed and dumped as an unwanted by-catch is disgraceful.

If 40,000 pounds of fish a week are being shipped from the new local fish processing plant alone, the implications are unmistakable. It translates into 160,000 pounds of fish a month or over 2 million pounds a year! And that is from only one source. Given the early ice out conditions that now present themselves, if uncontrolled commercial netting continues throughout the upcoming spring spawning period, the impact on the fishery will be particularly harmful. Perhaps irreversible.

I would urge you to take immediate and responsible action to reduce and control the harvest to sustainable levels, else risk losing one of the most important fisheries in Ontario.

A friend.

Gord Pyzer"

Fishing Editor, Outdoor Canada Magazine

Field Editor, In-Fisherman Magazine

Co-Host, The Real Fishing Radio Show

President, Canadian Angling Adventures Ltd.

Outdoor Columnist, The Kenora Daily Miner and News, The Fort Frances Times,

Just Fishing! and Grainews (Farm Business

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I thought this thread would spark a little more interest. Has anyone called the MNR District manager? I might be naive, but I think that would be a wise first step.

This is ugly, folks.

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First things first Hemlock! Canada does not want the U.S. to mingle in there business. A call from a non canadian citizen does nothing. Remember when Non residents were not allowed to keep any walleyes unless they stayed in canada. We had to use trade laws to combat that. The only people that will have any pull would be the canadian resort owners. I can tell you first hand the MNR does not care what I think. The best thing we can do on the U.S. side is let this play out and not ruffle the MNR feathers with our complaints. Its not our water!

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Hemlock,

JZ is right. The Canadians are not going to care what U.S. citizens think. Should you forward this information to the owners of Canadian resorts on LOW. I will forward it to the owners of the resort I usually stay at while at LOW. The Canadians, including the indians, need to start thinking about what the destruction of a fishery like LOW will do to many local economies if the fishermen (people) from the U.S. stop going up there to spend money. It seems that the tribes are being very short sighted.

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[Please read forum policy].

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wink.gifwink.gif

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Hey let's keep this on the positive side.

[Please read forum policy]

Thanks, Ryan

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It was a joke on my part. Post it on the Red Lake board and see what they have to say. They will go nuts on that board. Anyhow, I think you are right, in between seasons. I don't like the sound of it at all.

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Hines,

You make a good point. We should be careful that we do not attack a race of people or are percieved as attacking a a race of people. Frankly, if a few members of a group abuse the fishery they will not only hurt the sport fishermen and resort owners but they will also hurt their own neighbors. Hopefully the Canadian government will step in to make sure that treaty rights are interprepted at a fair and reasonable level. Sometimes the government has to step in to protect the citizens from themselves.

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All good points...

I was referring not to a race, but to our government...just to be crystal clear. smile.gif

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The good result is that if things keep going as they are you will see the bass fishing tourney make a visit to LOW like they now do on Rainy lakes North Arm.

OK, OK... I'm a little bitter but having first hand knowledge from that fight. The best way to handle it is for us in Minnesota to stay out of it. The Canadian citizens west of the capital have not had a voice in their government for a long time. The populus (ultra liberal) is out east and they rule. Check out the gun registration fiasco as an example. The people in Kenora will do well with this fish export business. And when they want to go fishing they have a million lakes to fish elsewhere. The resort owners are your only hope to put a stop to the problem. I just don't think they have enough support to force the issue out east!

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The best thing we on the States side can do is get in touch with our Representatives to Congress and Senators. I sent an email to Representative Collin Peterson yesterday and attached the above letter. Rep. Peterson was in the "thick of it" to help our resorters at LOW a few years back. There are many ways the USA can put pressure on Canada to put an end to this outragous misuse of our natural resources. If many of you FM'ers will contact the representative from your district, I beleive it will begin the wheels turning to rectify this mess. I have contacted Representative Peterson on several issues and he has always gone to work on the problem.

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Kingfisher, nice to hear. It's important to voice. I think it's better to speak up, send an email, or write a letter than it is to say there's nothing that can be done. My first step was to call the MNR and talk to them about what is really going on in their opinion. I'm having an anuual harvest publication sent to me and we'll read up and see what they have for numbers. I'll be sure to post it here.

I will also be contacting as many resorts in my power to get our rusty wheels in motion.

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We need to get the facts on the lbs. pulled! Is it really 40,000 a month and if so is it every month. Mabey it is 40'000 only 2 -3 months out of the year. Get the actual numbers, then put together a plan. (Hines R) have you ever spent any time around Oak Island or Center Island say 5-6 years ago?

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I personally think the US needs to have some involvement in this since it is border water and directly affects all of us as US citizens. The Canadians sure have expressed their opinion of a Devils Lake Outlet project. So something should be able to be done I am not a expert so I have no idea what it is but I am sure someone has an idea. Contacting our congressmen is a start and letting them know of our displeasure with what is happening up there would be a good start.

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I've never been up to Oak Island JZ. I've spent all my years running out of the Rainy River. I'm originally from Moorhead though and went to college up their.

I agree that we need to get a better idea of the numbers that are involved. If they are doing something illegal and taking all their quotas out of LOTW obviously this is more of an enforcement issue than anything and the numbers won't tell us that anything is wrong.

I've email the Governor, and one other state representative.

Sondra Erickson rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn has been known to be a friend of sportsman also. A e-mail to her regarding this matter also may help.

Here's the gov's address. tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us

I also contacted reporters at both the Star Tribune, and the Pioneer Press. Hopefully, we can draw some attention to the issue.

Later, Ryan

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I spent the weekend on LOW with DNR officials tagging Sturgeon. I asked them what they knew about this and the Area Fisheries Supervisor has been made aware of what's happening, but just recently. He has not had an opportunity to gather any data to prove/disprove what we are hearing.

He wasn't sure if a major depletion of Walleye in a specific area would cause fish in surrounding areas to infill the outgoing population. They are just beginning to understand that pike seem to stay fairly close to their home turf throughout their life.

Sounds like they are very interested in what's going on, but also noted a certain gap in authority to do much about it.

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Hemlock,

Thanks for informing us of this problem. In Minneapolis there is an NBC station called KARE 11 (broadcasts all over MN) that ran a story some months ago about how restaurants are serving Zander instead of Walleye. Their point was that it was misleading. When I saw the story I knew immediately the consequences this media exposure would put on commercial walleye harvest and that it would affect anglers and the resource somehow.

I e mailed a copy of the letter you posted to the reporter at KARE 11 that did the story. He needs to be aware of the consequences of running the story without realizing the pandoras box he opened.

Do we have any way of knowing where these walleye end up in the commercial market?

ccarlson

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Ccarlson,

I actually get KARE 11 here on my cable as well as the CBS station (WCCO I think) Don Shelby and crew anyways.

I caught the tail end of that Zander/Walleye bit a while back.

I just got off the phone with our fish packing plant here and the gal wasn't able to divulge the information, but I'm guessing the walleye fillets are shipped all over the place including Canada, US and possibly oversea's. When I hear back from someone who was going to return my call, I'll post any relavent info.

The gal who answered my phone said there's been a "bit of an upoar lately", and wasn't too keen on answering my questions. I'm guessing it is 100% related to this topic.

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I believe a Kenora packer/buyer was mentioned as getting most of the fish. The netting issue has become big. Very big. Most of the states with good walley fishing and probably all the provinces have a netting issue of some kind. Minnesota and Wisconsin have been at the forefront of sport fishermen vs netters and if hasn't been a pretty picture for the sport or the fish! Good job to keep an important and touchy subject in front of us.

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MN DNR has an upcoming meeting with Ontario staff and this is one of the agenda items they plan to discuss according to the Area Fisheries Supervisor.

Sounds like a good first step to me.

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A couple years ago while fishing on Stephens bay of LOW I came across a native net, very poorly marked and across a channel I had traveled on the way out fishing for the day. I was in the process of turning around and the guy on shore who was watching the net came out in his boat to BS with me. I asked what he was netting. He said crappies. I asked what he did with them. He said he sold them to a company out of Minneapolis. I told him I thought it strange since I run a fish restaurant in the metro and had never seen crappies on anyones fish list. He said he averaged about 30-40 fish a night. Kind of forgot about it til recently I saw them on a large local purveyor's list. Whole crappies, frozen. I have heard reliable sources tell me that they have the Canadian fresh walleye market pretty much wrapped up as well. I'm guessing we all know where these fish are being caught as well. The supply chain would not be that hard to figure out if anyone cared enough to check into it. It really is too bad this fishery seems to be doomed if the natives see fit and nobody does anything about it. Nobody thought Red Lake could be fished out either. Ooops.

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I've just recently heard about this issue too. I also agree that it will be hard for us to do anything ourselves because it is a canadian issue. The only thing that we can do to help is to stop eating store bought or restaraunt walleye. It just makes a guy sick though, to know that even after the mess that occured at Red Lake, people still don't care and will do what's best for them, not what's best for the whole. And in Canada, they probably don't care as much because there is so many other good walleye lakes. The resorters and people in the area are the ones that need to get going to try and put a stop to this. I'm sure netting has been happening for years on LOW, but netting commercially is not a good idea. Just pisses a guy off! mad.gif

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I'm going to link to a site that is solely about this issue and is in my opinion not a competing site. I read the forum policy before putting it in here so I'm trying to play in the rules. I will say that since this is link is to a place people get to put up a page for free it's a pain in the butt for having popups. It's got a lot of pictures of what this is about and some information.

http://www.lakeofthewoods.0catch.com/

This is the same site but has a page of pictures and is linked to on the home page.

http://www.lakeofthewoods.0catch.com/net4.htm

This is what the guy had to say about it in the place I got it. His screen name is kenoraonca!

I have already setup a web site on this and trying to put everything in one spot.

For the time being it is hosted on a free hosting companie. www.lakeofthewoods.0catch.com

Wthin a month, I will be moving it to another I have used in the past, that is both reliable, no banners or pop ups etc.. Plus they offer excellent service 99% up time, and good extras such as chat, message boards and stats.

It is also very reasonably priced. $5 a month or whatever. No big deal.

This once up, will NOT go down. However with your help I would like good fresh content. Photo's of nets if you have seen them. Any information you hear that I do not as I do not hear everything. etc. etc.

I have no objection on keeping this up to date, and up and running. It is an excellent cause.

Email me at

kenora@cwazy.co.uk

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