Put safety first around lakes and rivers

    McGuinty Government Promotes Fishing As Fun Family Day Activity

    TORONTO, Feb. 12 /CNW/ -


    Safety on and around Ontario's lakes and rivers should be everyone's main
priority when they're outdoors this Family Day Weekend.
    To encourage people to get outside and try fishing, Ontario residents can
fish without purchasing a licence in most public waters across the province
from February 14 to 16. During this long weekend, anglers must follow the
conservation licence limits set out in the 2008-2009 Ontario Recreational
Fishing Regulations Summary
    Events offering free information on safety on ice and fishing will be
held where conditions permit.
    Recent mild weather has made ice on many bodies of water unsafe. All
anglers should check with local ice hut operators before venturing out and
make safety their first priority.


    "The winter family fishing weekend is an opportunity to take part in an
outdoor tradition that is popular across the province," said Natural Resources
Minister Donna Cansfield
(http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/About/2ColumnSubPage/249086.html). "With recent
warm weather affecting ice conditions in parts of the province, it's important
to put safety first."
    "The OFAH conceived the idea of an Ontario Family Fishing Weekend sixteen
years ago, and we have been pleased to work with the Ministry of Natural
Resources and our other partners to expand this outstanding program to include
a winter event," said Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
(http://www.ofah.org/) Executive Director Mike Reader. "Winter fishing,
whether on ice or from shore, gives people of all ages the chance to enjoy the
outdoors and participate in a truly Canadian cultural heritage activity."


    -  Approximately 1.4 million anglers fish in Ontario each year and spend
       $2.3 billion dollars in the province annually.
    -  Ontario manages 24 per cent of Canada's freshwater, including
       40 per cent of the Great Lakes and more than 250,000 lakes across the


    -  Get more information on the Ontario Family Fishing Weekend
       (www.familyfishingweekend.com/) and on associated events across the
    -  See the 2008-2009 Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary
       (ontario.ca/fishing) which is also available from licence issuers and
       ServiceOntario/Government Information Centres

                                                      Disponible en français

                                                                  FACT SHEET


    The Ministry of Natural Resources is reminding anglers to check ice
conditions before heading out to do some ice fishing this season.


    Please remember:

    -  Ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and
       rivers. This can be particularly evident at the start of the winter
       season when near-shore ice is often much thicker and safer than ice
       further out. Check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as you
       move further out on the ice.

    -  Not all ice is created equal. Ice that has formed over flowing water,
       springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes or around the mouths of rivers
       and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice.

    -  Clear blue ice is the strongest. White or opaque ice is much weaker.
       Ice that has a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring,
       should be avoided altogether.

    -  Travelling on frozen lakes or rivers with snowmobiles or vehicles can
       be particularly dangerous and added precautions must be taken. At
       least 20 centimetres (eight inches) of clear blue ice is required for
       snowmobiles and 30 centimetres (12 inches) or more is needed for most
       light vehicles. Double this amount if the ice is white or opaque.

    -  Heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and
       slow down the freezing process.


    -  Anglers should check with local ice hut operators before venturing
    -  Let others know where you're planning to fish and when you plan to
       return. Appropriate clothing and equipment are critical to safety and
    -  Many anglers wear floater suits and carry a set of ice picks.

    Media Desk,                            ontario.ca/natural-resources-news
    Communications Services Branch,                   Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Ivan Langrish, Minister's Office, (416)
314-2212; Media Desk, Communications Services Branch, (416) 314-2106

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Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

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