Update on Frozen Bait Disposal/Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Regulation Enforced on Lake Winnipeg
This past week, the MWF received numerous messages from our members regarding the enforcement of disposing frozen bait to prevent the spread of AIS on Lake Winnipeg. The MWF has brought our members concerns to senior levels of Government pressing for a solution that will exempt frozen bait from the regulation.
The AIS Regulation prohibits the removal of bait from a control zone. This requirement is in place because water from a control zone associated with bait, may be contaminated with AIS at microscopic life-stages or otherwise so small they can go unnoticed, even in the winter season. Moving water from an AIS Control Zone can contaminate other water bodies. The department and all water resource users have a responsibility to stop the spread of AIS across Manitoba, and anglers must ensure water is not transferred from a control zone.
The Federation has just been notified that the department is in the process of conducting a five-year review of its AIS legislation as part of its overall strategic plan and concerns around this regulation from resource users will be included in this review. While the review is underway, the Manitoba government is clarifying the requirements for bait disposal as follows:
Commercially supplied dead bait that has not come into contact with water from a waterbody in an AIS Control Zone can be retained by anglers for future use. All live bait possessed in an AIS Control Zone must still be disposed in the trash before leaving the shore, as must any dead bait that has been handled (i.e. hooked) or come into contact with surface water from the lake.
This will take effect in trust that anglers will act responsibly in ensuring that dead bait has not been hooked, or has not come into contact, with surface water from the lake and that contaminated bait is disposed of before leaving. The MWF is asking our members and all anglers to act responsibly when using bait on any water body and cooperate with Conservation Officers to ensure regulations are being followed. The MWF would like to thank the Government for hearing our concerns, taking swift action and for putting their trust in anglers to make responsible choices. This is a great example that positive influence and outcomes can happen when MWF members have a unified voice.