Letter to concerned citizens of Manitoulin Island

Dear Residents, Friends of Manitoulin Island:

This letter is regarding the sudden influx of dead fish appearing on the shores of Lake Manitou earlier this month. My office team immediately contacted officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) to ensure that authorities were taking action. I also wrote to Minister Yakabuski asking him to expedite the investigation and any necessary actions to ensure the protection of the wildlife, lake, environment and general public.

As we await an official response from the Minister, Ministry staff have provided some information, which will be useful to residents and visitors to Manitoulin Island.

Ministry officials have advised us that sudden die-offs in fish populations do occur from time to time. Below you will find a summary of their response and advice to date:

There are a range of causes, which include naturally occurring low oxygen levels in water, stress from spawning and changing water temperatures. While the exact cause has not yet been confirmed, we understand that MNRF has taken samples of the fish and are conducting appropriate tests.

Public assistance is important when such incidents occur as it helps MNRF to:

  • better understand wildlife diseases and how they spread

  • improve methods of disease control and management

  • protect fish and wildlife populations

When an individual contacts the MNRF to report such matters they can expect to be asked to provide their contact information for follow-up as well as information about the fish such as:

  • the kind of fish (baitfish or game fish)

  • the species, if you know it (e.g., walleye, bass)

  • how many (e.g., a dozen, a hundred, a thousand, thousands)

  • condition (e.g., dead, dying, decomposed)

  • visible signs of illness (e.g., pale gills, bloated abdomens, bulging eyes, bleeding)

It is also essential for the person reporting to provide as many details as possible about the location and conditions that they observed including:

  • name of the waterbody

  • closest municipality

  • location or landmarks recent weather or environmental conditions

Individuals wishing to report concerning fish die-offs to the MNRF can do so by telephone Monday – Friday during business hours at 1-800-667-1940.

  • if the fish die-off is suspected to be the result of a spill rather than a disease or other natural cause, people are encouraged to contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060, which receives calls 24/7.

In addition to consulting with the MNRF, my office has also been in contact with other agencies for additional advice. We will be happy to share any pertinent information as it becomes available.

My office team and I will continue to monitor this ongoing situation and follow up as required.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Mantha, MPP