Promoting the future of urban recreational fishing: Toronto and Region waterfront

A boy fishes along Lake Ontario.

Photo: Laud Matos, Environment and Climate Change Canada.

2013-2014 Funding: $150,750, including $50,000 provided by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund

Other Project Contributors: Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Aquatic Habitat Toronto, Toronto Remedial Action Plan, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Durham Region.

A major cooperative effort is underway, with the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, to strengthen the future of urban recreational fishing along more than 200 kilometres of Lake Ontario waterfront.

Urban recreational fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in Canada. However, ongoing urban development along the Lake Ontario’s northern shore is fragmenting wetland and aquatic habitat, with uncertain consequences for the future of recreational fishing in the region.

To respond to this challenge, the federal and provincial governments, conservation authorities and municipalities are coordinating development of the Lake Ontario North Shore: Urban Recreational Fisheries Management Plan. The goal is to help build the needs of urban fishing - such as public access to shorelines, habitat restoration, education and awareness - into future municipal and regional waterfront planning decisions.

Initially, the project focused only on the 67 kilometres of waterfront and estuaries of the Toronto and Region Area of Concern. As interest in the initiative grew, the project expanded to include neighbouring municipalities and conservation authorities. It now covers the waterfront from the western border of Burlington to the eastern border of Durham Region.

The project’s final product will be a planning guide for local governments setting out practical advice to support the needs of urban fisheries. The guide will identify:

  • the state and health of the fish communities, including where recreational fisheries can be developed and promoted, and where sensitive fisheries should be protected;
  • opportunities to promote urban fishing through improved public access and habitat rehabilitation; and,
  • recommendations for working with local tourism and recreation stakeholders to promote public awareness of urban fishing, including engaging diverse ethnic communities, children and youth.

Agencies involved in the project have worked hard to involve as many anglers and interested citizens as possible in the development of the plan. Public consultation sessions were held to present a draft of the plan and to seek public input. Feedback from those meetings was incorporated and the plan “Fishing in Your Backyard: An Urban Recreational Fisheries Strategy for the Lake Ontario Northwest Waterfront” was finalized and is available on Aquatic Habitat Toronto.

For more information on the Toronto and Region Area of Concern, please visit: Aquatic Habitat Toronto.

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