Competitive Fishing in Ontario Workshop Proceedings, Workshop Proceedings WP-O1

There is little doubt that the popularity of competitive fishing has increased considerably in the past decade. Although accurate records on individual events are generally not available, it is believed that there are several hundred competitive fishing events, including tournaments, derbies and contests, across Ontario each year. These events span all seasons of the year, include both inland and Great Lakes waters, and target a wide variety of fish species. Despite their increasing popularity and obvious economic benefits to local economies, there are several controversial issues with respect to competitive fishing events. These include concerns about boating safety, the impacts of handling, weigh-in and release techniques of angled fish, interference with the activities of shoreline residents, the potential of overharvesting local fish stocks, impacts on other aquatic biota (e.g., nesting water birds), and competition with other non-tournament anglers. One of the primary functions of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource’s (MNR) science division is to collate and disseminate new science and pertinent information to both resource users and managers. One means of accomplishing this task is to organize and host interactive workshops. Three other workshops (“Bass Management in Ontario” in 1994; “Managing Muskies in the 90s” in 1995; and “Science in the Southeast” in 1997) have been held in southeastern Ontario in the past five years. A two day workshop on competitive fishing events was held at the Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology on March 12 and 13, 1999. The workshop was organized by the Southcentral Sciences Section of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The objective of the workshop was to assemble a mix of speakers to summarize recent research activities and management approaches as well as review various issues and concerns with respect to competitive fishing in Ontario. The workshop format included presentations by 16 different speakers. Time was allotted for questions and general discussion after each presentation. The workshop concluded with a general synopsis and overview summarizing highlights of individual presentations and items of general discussion. The interest in competitive fishing was evident by the fact that, despite inclement late winter weather conditions, at least eighty people attended the event. Workshop attendees included fisheries managers and researchers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, fishing tournament organizers, tournament anglers, representatives from local sportsmans organizations and cottage associations, and unaffiliated anglers. These workshop proceedings have been assembled to document the formal presentations at the workshop and transfer this information to those who were not in attendance.