Fishing in the province brings in more than $1.6 billion annually, supporting many local businesses in rural areas. Canada has fishing in its heritage and it has been a very low-cost way to get out and explore the outdoors.
Amateur anglers have been able to take advantage of free fishing over the first week of July and other special holidays like Family Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, for the past few years as the Ontario government has made a push to get people out exploring what the lakes and waterways have to offer. This year the Ford government is extending the family fishing week, giving additional time to those who want to take advantage doing a safe social distancing activity outdoors, while also supporting the tourism sector.
From July 4 to 19, anyone in the province can pick up their rod and reel and fish without a license. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government thought this would be a great low-risk way to enjoy family time, while also helping to support local businesses affected by the pandemic.
“With everybody being cooped up with COVID-19, we wanted to try and figure out some ways that we could get people back outside being active in the outdoors and fishing is a pretty low-risk way to be able to do that,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris.“Obviously, if you’re with your own family and you’re following social or physical distancing protocols it’s something that can be done pretty easily with low risk of catching or transmitting COVID-19 if you were to have it. We want to try and promote people getting out getting active and doing it in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Harris says the government has been trying to promote this for the past few years as a way to get people outdoors, and because of the virus this year it’s especially important for people and businesses to have this additional week. He says he has been an avid angler for the three decades, so he knows firsthand the impact that fishing has on the business industry.
“I’ve been fishing for about 33 years and if you factor those 33 years into the economy it equates to thousands of dollars, so it definitely benefits local retailers for sure,” he added.
Those who choose to take part in the free fishing week must adhere to all rules and regulations set out by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. These rules include following conservation licence catch limits, obey size limits and sanctuaries and follow the fishing regulations.