MINDEMOYA – Action needs to be taken now to control cormorants on Lake Huron including waters around Manitoulin before the sports fishery is wiped out. This was the message Island game and fish club representatives, municipal and First Nation representatives and federal and provincial politicians relayed to Ken Gibbons, area supervisor with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
�This is no doubt a complex problem and there is no simple answer. I witnessed the collapse of sport fishing in Lake Michigan with 1,000 chart captains going out of business within a year. We are on the verge of a collapse of our fishery here. If you go out on the North Channel, what you will see is cormorants flying over and going to inland lakes instead. That is a bad sign and points to big trouble,� stated Rick Fogal of the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club.
Fogal presented a petition to Gibbons which had first been circulated on the Island last fall. He pointed out 2,542 signatures are on the petition, although a lot more could have been obtained if the petition had been circulated last summer, he said.
The petition reads, �whereas the excessive cormorant population is having a negative affect upon the sports fishery which provides a source of recreation, food and tourism and further, whereas the current cormorant population is detrimental to the baitfish biomass of Lake Huron. Therefore, we the undersigned do hereby petition the Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal government to implement an effective cormorant policy by May 1, 1999.�
Jim Sloss, of the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club, meeting chair, said it wasn�t really until the Blue Jay Creek Fish Culture Station and Gore Bay Fish Hatchery opened in 1986 that the area became known as a big water fishery. The two helped provide a diversity of fish in the area, as well as many other groups such as the Manitoulin Fish and Little Current, West Bay fish and game clubs, Mindemoya Area Fisheries Improvement Association and others.
Sloss noted the MNR has also helped to replenish fishing in the area since the early 1980�s by increasing stocking a diversity of fish and taking a community based approach to fish stocking, helping communities such as Meldrum Bay and Providence Bay who have had to expand marina facilities because of an influx of fishermen.
As well, Sloss pointed out the MNR recently provided $22,000 in funding to the Gore Bay Hatchery to maintain its operation for another year. �We have one of the finest freshwater fishing locations in North America, but it is something I feel is in great jeopardy,� stated Sloss. �The cormorants have had the most significant negative impact on the North Channel, Lake Huron and inland lake fish populations.
Noting statistics from representatives of the Lake Huron Fisheries Management Unit, in 1994 there were almost 21,000 cormorant nests on Lake Huron, with the population size estimated at 85,927 cormorants, which represents roughly 40 percent of the total number on the Great Lakes. Cormorants consumed 70 percent of the total fish extraction from the North Channel, including 1,395.2 metric tons of biomass consumed by cormorants.
Sloss said what acted as the catalyst for getting the petition started, was after a fishing trip he and Fogal took last August in Providence Bay. With good sonar fish finding equipment usually it would be easy to see schools of baitfish, as much as a quarter mile in length. However, on this particular fishing trip the two didn�t see any schools of fish, and the fish they did catch were severely undernourished. He pointed out there is still good amounts of baitfish in waters on the north side of the Islands but are at a critical state on the south side of Manitoulin.
Gibbons was asked questions as to the life span of cormorants, if local clubs can assist in reducing the numbers and where and how help can be garnered from governments. Although not able to provide an answer on how long the birds live, Gibbons said any interested parties could help implement control plans although in what form he is unsure of at this time.
�Cormorants are not just a problem here, the Northern states have been looking at this, as well as Quebec and Ontario,� said Gibbons. He said New York State has released a report recently which is looking at starting a control program, and representatives from Ontario will be meeting with these representatives in the near future.
Some of the methods which have been used in the past to control the birds includes the shooting of them, although this is not necessarily sanctioned, said Gibbons. He said a more humane method which has been used is boiling the cormorant eggs before they hatch, inhibiting their hatching.
Any control of cormorant populations would require assistance from Fish and Game Club representatives and volunteers on a yearly basis, said Gibbons. He pointed out the birds will move to other areas if inhibited in their nesting. If we go to control mechanisms this will be a long term process, such as lamprey controls in the St. Mary�s River in Sault Ste. Marie.
It was suggested by fishing guide Keith Moffat the process should focus on reducing the number of adult birds. �This is a thorny issue. I don�t know what the solution would be but we have to look at the best methods. There are really two decisions which have to be made, what control implementations are put in place, what this will be, and the best method of doing this,� said Gibbons.
Dave Ham, reeve of Assiginack township, attended a meeting last week looking at promoting the North Channel. He suggested this is counterproductive if tourism is affected with declines in the fishery. �It seems the problem with cormorants is out of control. We would like to find out the legalities in controlling cormorants right now. Does the MNR have a control program or are we going to have to wait for more studies to be done?� He questioned whether the province has dollars available to go ahead with control programs.
Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Brown commented he isn�t sure money is available, but felt money should be spent in this area. �The main point is, we can�t wait any longer, there is definitely a major problem here and it is increasing,� said Brown. He said the main reason cormorants disappeared for a long period was because DDT and pesticides were used to control them. He indicated he will be forwarding these concerns to the powers that be in the province.
Brent St. Denis, MP for Algoma – Manitoulin, explained this type of process would not be easy to implement. He explained in Thessalon, local council there had asked for permission from the MNR to have one rock near its marina removed, which was a nesting area for seagulls. However, they went through a lot of time and hassle because environmentalists were opposed to this. The province should take the lead in rectifying the current situation with cormorants, however, the federal government can assist. He will petition the federal ministry of the department of Fisheries and Oceans to take action.
�I am concerned we not wait too long, especially if there is the possibility the fishery in this area will collapse,� said Perry Anglin, reeve of Central Manitoulin township. Gibbons said it should be understood cormorants are definitely a detriment to the area fishery, however he could not guarantee anything will be done in the immediate short-term, but the meeting is a good exercise because it provides the ministry with input on where it should be concentrating its efforts.
The ministry will have a statement released soon on cormorant policy. Eventually the policy will be similar to lamprey controls to continually know their population levels, said Gibbons. He pointed out the funding program which monies were allocated to the Gore Bay fish Hatchery might be accessed.
Martin Bayer, tribal chair for the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Island told the meeting the UCCM will be meeting with the Minister of Natural Resources, John Snobelen later this month and the issue of cormorant control will be one which is raised. �We recognize the importance of the sport fishery to the economy of Manitoulin island but we also recognize the issue of a fragile ecosystem. The tourist season is near and we need to have a response quickly,� said Bayer who noted the UCCM is more than willing to assist in getting this issue resolved. As well, Brown and St. Denis both said they will be raising this issue to higher levels of government.
Allow Students Their Individuality!
Do uniforms add a tone of authority and bring discipline to a school – thereby creating a better learning environment? For decades we have been attempting to teach our students to exercise their individuality and now we want to snatch it away and bring them under control.
And how does our Mr. Johnson think the students are going to react to being told they must all dress like little penguins in a row? For certain, a strict code of conduct will need to be implemented at the same time because no doubt many students will buck the new system.
On the slight chance that those have-not children will then be on par in the wardrobe department with the upper echelon of the student body, bullying will continue in some form or another as it has since the first school opened. A strict code of conduct that has nothing to do with a students� apparel should have been implemented a long time ago.
When the government decided it had the right to say where and when children can and should be disciplined, the trouble in schools began. Teachers, parents, bus drivers – no body has control over children anymore. That authority which ignited respect in the hearts of baby boomers has been lost on the next generation.
Expecting students who have no respect for authority to embrace the wearing of uniforms is ludicrous. There is no way these students will give up their baggy jeans, skimpy t-shirts, nose rings, etc. to wear a uniform. Solutions to our education problem? This smacks of totalitarianism or nazism, and will meet stiff resistance by a class of students and parents educated enough to realize that freedom lies in individuality.
Congratulations to Dave Fogal, the new branch manager at the Bank of Montreal in Gore Bay. Musky Widows is a new restaurant opened up by Mike & Norma Sprack in Manitowaning. Also in that community, welcome to Jim Ferguson, the new manager at the Co-Op.
Audrey and Bruce Tombs of Little Current have started Northern Mix, a company that will be offering canoeing excursion retreats for married couples. Turners in Little Current are now offering wedding accessories and tuxedo rentals along with their crafts and other goods. Annette�s Automotive in Little Current has snowmobile parts and accessories available as well as automotive parts.
The Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce has a new toll-free telephone number beginning Tuesday, February 9 at 1-800-698-8861. Joyce Foster announced that the Network Manitoulin meeting on March 2 will be held in Little Current at the Shaftesbury Inn. Ruth Mohammed of Little Current was appointed to the board to replace Audrey Tombs who resigned for personal reasons. Ray Pardiac, president of the Chamber, reported that membership for the chamber stands at 179 members. Kelly O�Hare from the Chamber and Sharon Alkenbrack of the MTA are once again organizing the Women�s Wellness weekend. Leaflets on the Ontario Chamber of Commerce entitled �Ontario in the 21st Century� are available at the office.
The Great Manitou Star Party is offering sponsorship benefits to interested partners of this event. Sponsorship is available at $100.00 and provides you with a family pass to the star party good for all five nights, company recognition on site as an island recommended business, company recognition on all posters, registration forms and other promotional material, as well as a presence on the Sudbury Astronomy Club website www.2.isys.ca.astroclub.
CKNR�s hockey team, the �No Shows� will be on the Island playing in Wikwemikong at the arena on Sunday, February 21 as part of the fundraising efforts for the Naokwegijig family that lost everything in a fatal house fire last week. There will also be an auction of hockey and sports memorabilia afterwards. Bob Alexander promises lots of cream pies and exploding outhouses to delight the anticipated crowds.
Looking to go ice fishing this winter but without the hassles? Keith�s Guiding Services in Mindemoya can set you up in their nicely heated ice huts with all the fishing jigs and equipment you�ll need.
Events coming up include snowmobile races and a poker run on February 14 in Manitowaning as part of their Winterfest Weekend as well as a mixed curling bonspiel in Mindemoya. There is a Valentine�s Day dance at the Legion in Gore Bay, a cross country skiing event at Misery Bay, a Valentine�s Pancake Breakfast in Silver Water, Pancake Supper in Gore Bay as well as a poker run from Gordon�s Lodge to Kagawong and back.
Rita Gordon�s business column appears Wednesdays in The Manitoulin Recorder. If you have business news of interest to Manitoulin Island and area, write her c/o Gordon�s Park, Hwy. 6, Tehkummah, Ontario P0P 2C0, fax her at (705) 859-2470, or email at [email protected].
KAGAWONG – Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Brown has told the president of Union Energy that the company�s rental equipment rates and system of billing are, �nothing less than corporate robbery.� In a letter to Brian Gabel, president of Union Energy, Brown said the company�s name is misleading since the company does not supply energy, just equipment.
�Quite frankly, your invoices are misleading in other ways, claiming to provide energy services and to be the one source for all your energy needs,� continued Brown. But the main concern, said Brown, is the fact the Union Energy is demanding quarterly advance payments and threatening late payment charges if the advances aren�t paid by the due date.
�This is totally unacceptable. I submit that separating energy bills from equipment bills should not be an excuse to rip off the consumer,� said Brown. He asked Gabel to, �please address this issue in the interests of your customers and my constituents, many of whom are seniors and on fixed incomes.�
Manitoulin News and Views
The North Eastern Agricultural Conference is slated for April 9th and 10th, 1999. A trade show of Agricultural Products and services will run the Friday evening and Saturday. Experience with hemp production, corn silage use in northern Ontario, food safety realities and many other topics will be covered. This event is held at the New Liskeard Research Station.
A producer information package regarding current trade issues with beef exports to the U.S. was recently received in our office. CCA officials wrote what I feel is a clear document to provide perspective around this trade issue. Contact the office for a copy.
Farmers can take advantage of a recently announced perk from Revenue Canada around the problem of the Y2K (millennium bug). Under this tax relief, businesses may make accelerated capital cost allowance deductions of up to $50,000 for software and hardware systems that are not Year 2000 compliant.
Version 2 of the Water Management Guide for Livestock Production is now available. This publication was developed in cooperation with the Ontario Cattlemen�s Association and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. Contact the office for a free copy.
The popular Annual Crop Budgets are now available for 1999. Cereals, soybeans, forages and canola are examples. Let us know the type and number requested and we will print them off for you.
Remember the Pesticide Safety Course slated for March 10th, 1999 at the Spring Bay Hall. I hear of more and more producers getting �on the net�. If we have enough interest, how about an information session around surfing, e-mail and more? Let me know.
How about learning about Crop Marketing? Hedging, basis, contracts and many other topics will be discussed. Contact the office for the date of this course. On March 23, A Fundamentals of Marketing Course will be offered. Learn the basics of retail and value added marketing from Gord Mitchell, Secretary and Marketing Manager for the Northern Cattle Sales Network. Call and register at the office.
Rural Youth Job Strategy Kits
Rural Youth Job Strategy Kits will be available shortly for distribution. This program is intended to encourage local businesses or organizations to enter into partnership to provide jobs or training for rural young people between the ages of 15 and 29.
For more information, contact Brian Bell at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Gore Bay at 282-2043.