OFAH ZONE J ANNUAL REPORT
In 2005-06 our Zone’s membership approximating
23,000 experienced a rebound that saw new individual members join in sufficient numbers to replace declines in previous months.
OFAH membership initiatives helped -- a willingness
to join was more evident in general this year at several outdoors events
New faces with well established organizational
and people skills ran and successfully joined our Zone J Executive bringing fresh ideas approaches and dedication.
The stalwarts who made the Zone what it is continued
to show support and loyalty.
Our New OFAH Zone J web site with links to clubs,
partnering interests has been an efficient vehicle supplemented by e-mail for informing wide ranging members. This along with
phone contacts to clubs and our Crossbow incentive for those attending more than one OFAH Zone J meeting seem to have increased
involvement and information sharing. A recent quarterly was well attended.
Several Affiliated Clubs received awards and public
recognition for conservation work.
And brought conservation concerns and issues to
Several clubs however, are experiencing declines
in membership and increasing costs and needs to fund raise in order to maintain their assets. This in some clubs has resulted
in more emphasis on social pursuits and recreational events than in conservation work causing some friction and OFAH activity
A “Successes in Conservation” display
at the Backus Conservation Area Education Centre spearheaded by Russ Piper and Dave Reid was officially opened with Mike Reader
participating in the ceremony along with local dignitaries. Zone J contributed dollars and expertise to this effort as did
several other organizations and Scott Petrie and Dave Ankney.
Zone and Head Office representation at the MNR
Lake Erie Management Unit resulted in several major gains for anglers. A seasonal no netting zone in part of Long
Point Bay to reduce conflicts
and enable a quality perch fishery and reasonable walleye quotas lake wide with the East basin receiving special attention.
We feel this is a good model for the projected
FMZ stewardship groups in the new MNR management framework. A reasonable level of attention to angling quality was included
in the conclusion of the East Basin Percid Recovery task team however the OCFA are unhappy with many of the recommendations
We had a good year on our lakes and rivers as
predicted because of the large 2003 walleye year class growing into size. The pressure is on for additional allocations to
the commercial fishery and reductions on angler creels inland.
Centralization at MNR and multi-layering of responsibilities
is also evident in the new FMZ 16 which is larger than our zone. Where local managers could advise us on regulation changes
and biologically desirable exceptions this process now is more convoluted since Land and the LEMU managers have to request
approval from the newly formed Review Committee and Great Lakes Unit. Less accountability and less attention to biological
detail could be the problematic outcome of this unless we contribute more time and effort to being vigilant.
Access opportunities in general, and on public
lands for hunting, continue to decline. One entire WMU is being lobbied to allow only one form of hunting. Proponents, many
OFAH’ers positioning this situation as a safeguard to area landowners to prevent slob “hunters and trespassers”
from neighboring areas from intruding. Hunters pitted against hunters are a concern here and we’re concerned.
Some individual property owners are managing their
lands as sanctuary for wildlife and one chap has even threatened his neighbours if they allow hunting and when wounded animals
enter his property with law suits.
Trespassing is the main source of complaints and
the main reason that some municipalities/public opinion nixed Sunday hunting.
Springbank dam remains an unresolved issue that has significant implications regarding several Federal and Provincial fisheries
related regulations. The science has pointed to ecological, biological and water quality issues that would be exacerbated
the planned improvements to the dam proceed as
designed . A one year delay in this funded project is entering year 2. OCFA TUC Local Clubs and OFAH and MNR are pressing
for appropriate fish passage enhancements in this part of the Thames
The City of London
has opposed so far.
We are also involved in The Thames River FMP in
its third year .The Hamilton Harbour FMP. Tequnyah and many other planning processes.
MNR staff morale is low and operations have been
constrained. CO’s are effectively parked on all but the highest priority investigations. This could result in far more
illegal activity welling up and becoming more commonplace. We’ve made our concerns known to anyone who would listen
and MPP John Wilkinson PA to the Minister of the Environment has opened some opportunities for OFAH in this regard. Tony Jackson
Zone J’s new Vice Chair has distinguished himself as being very influential and has worked hard to make things happen
as have all the other executive.
While we are thankful for the highs that we are
currently experiencing unless governments get serious about protecting and managing our environment and Natural Resources
there will be lean years ahead and already started.
Alf Marinelli past chair, and I , representing
our directors and members, appreciate the effort put forth by all the Zone’s, OFAH Committees, and Head Office Staff
in again putting OFAH on a solid foundation for making a difference in the things
that matter most to all of us over the past year
Respectfully submitted: Felix Barbetti Chair OFAH Zone J