Lake Simcoe VHS Management Zone (LSMZ)

The objective of the new Management Zone is to address the further spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS), which was confirmed in Lake Simcoe last year. The deadly fish virus has already been responsible for significant fish die offs in Lake Ontario, and was responsible for a fish die off in Lake Simcoe last year. VHS can spread to other inland waters and the spread of invasive species to Lake Simcoe by movement of commercial baitfish (alive or dead) into or out of the Lake Simcoe Management Zone. Management of some 70 commercial bait operators have retail locations or Bait Harvest Areas (BHAs) in the Lake Simcoe Management Zone area is the goal of the Management Zone designation. Existing controls for VHS Management Zone for other sectors (e.g. egg collections and stocking, etc.) are applied to new area of Lake Simcoe Management Zone. This move is considered an Interim Approach for Lake Simcoe, that has supplied a significant portion of the Ontario winter ice-fishery with baitfish. On August 21, 2012 Fisheries Policy Section staff met with Simcoe harvesters in Orillia to discuss potential interim options with the goals of minimizing the risk of spread of VHS ensuring bait availability for winter 2013.