By: Mike Anderson
The Ontario Conservation Officers Association (OCOA) is reminding anglers that ice huts must be removed from Lake Simcoe by midnight, March 15.
If ice huts are not removed by the deadline, anglers could face a minimum fine of $150, or a maximum fine of $25,000, and up to one year in jail, or both, under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
“Ice fishing huts must be removed from the ice by the prescribed deadlines, with the exception of portable fish huts that are made of cloth or synthetic fabric that are seven square metres in size or less,” Sean Cronsberry, OCOA president, said in a recent media release.
“Ice huts that are left or abandoned on the ice can eventually fall through the ice and pollute our lakes, causing hazards to boaters during the open water season.”
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), anglers, who abandoned ice huts and allow them to fall through the ice, could face additional fines.
The maximum penalty for a first offence is $15,000 under the Public Lands Act, which applies to both vehicles and ice huts.
This fine may be added to the initial fine for failing to remove the ice hut by the prescribed deadline, so an offending angler could face a cumulative $40,000 fine plus jail time.
According to Mr. Cronsberry, anglers are responsible for removing their ice huts prior to ice conditions deteriorating.
“Many of our waterbodies have less ice this year compared to the last couple years and in some areas the ice may be gone before the ice hut removal date,” he said.
“Anglers must ensure they remove their ice fishing huts while the ice conditions are still safe to do so.”
According to Jolanta Kowalski, an MNRF spokesperson, the Ministry has provided multiple warnings, through social media, that the deadline was approaching.
However, she said MNRF is not responsible for warning anglers about deteriorating ice conditions that could make ice hut removal unsafe.
“It’s up to people using the ice to be aware of conditions,” said Ms. Kowalski.
The provincial website urges anglers to contact ice hut operators or other anglers to find out if ice conditions are safe before venturing out on the ice.
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