Fisheries Management

Nipissing First Nation plays a fundamental role in promoting the health and recovery of the Lake Nipissing fishery.  NFN continues to have significant successes in protecting the lake’s walleye population and maintaining safe harvest levels within our commercial fishery, consistent with Aboriginal treaty and harvesting rights.

The spring gillnet moratorium (in effect from April 1, 2020 – May 16, 2020) is the most important management tool we have to protect the spawning fish and ensure the long-term health and sustainability of Lake Nipissing and our fishery.   If we protect the spawning fish, we protect the lake… and our future.   This starts with a successful spring moratorium.

Chief & Council have decided that the temporary moratorium on the cultural practice of spear fishing will remain in effect for 2020 to boost the success rate of the spawn.  Chief & Council also considered concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in making this decision to protect the health of community members.

Nipissing First Nation Fisheries Law Regulations

In April 2015, following community consultations that identified concerns of NFN community members about the stressed walleye fishery, Council put new regulations in place under NFN’s Fisheries Law that:

  • continued a spring moratorium on gill-netting (in effect since the Fisheries Law was enacted in 2005)
  • mandated the opening of the commercial season to coincide with the opening of recreational sports fishery (May long weekend)
  • reduced the number of permitted gill-nets from 5 panels to 3
  • increased minimum gill-net mesh size from 3.5 inches to 3.75 inches
  • continue to seek legal advice to use the Gichi-Naaknigewin to strengthen our fisheries laws and regulations.

We have made positive strides in our fisheries management activities with the financial and technical resources provided through our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). We are seeing early signs of recovery, however the walleye population remains stressed and requires additional time to rebuild their numbers to maintain a healthy, strong fishery.  Read the 2019-2020 MOU Update here.

Commercial Fishery

One of our main goals is to work towards a sustainable walleye fishery in Lake Nipissing.  Each year, NFN fishers (in compliance with NFN’s Fisheries Law and Regulations), provide information and data needed to help monitor and calculate the total walleye harvest for the season.

NFN uses standardized processes to collect and analyze harvest data, which is used by Chief and Council to set regulations and limits every year to ensure sustainable harvest levels for the commercial fishery.  This includes determining when it may be necessary to close the commercial fishery early, as was the case in August 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In 2018, NFN had 23 registered commercial fishers and our overall harvest was within target limits to ensure sustainability. As part of NFN’s Fisheries Program, compliant registered commercial fishers are eligible for the Fisheries Employment Insurance Benefit.

NFN’s leadership in the management of the commercial fishery on Lake Nipissing is vital to its long-term health and sustainability.  Learn more about our cooperative efforts to manage the Lake Nipissing fisheries here.


Fall Walleye Index Netting (FWIN)

FWIN is an Ontario standardized method of research and data collection that is used to assess the health of the walleye population.  This project allows for the collection of important fish population information to help manage the whole lake ecosystem, as well as help in the recovery of the walleye population in Lake Nipissing.

Every year, the Natural Resources Department assists the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in efforts to collect data needed for this annual project. In total there were 48 FWIN nets set in Lake Nipissing for 2019.

FWIN nets are made up of different mesh sizes and completed in the fall when surface water temperatures have cooled to 15ᵒC. All fish caught are removed from the nets, counted and identified. Biological data is recorded from walleye and all other sportfish. Measurements includes: fork length, total length, and round weight. In addition, scales and at least one other structure are collected for ageing and growth rates, the sex and maturity is also determined.

All data is then entered into a software program and analyzed. Data from FWIN has been collected since 1998 on Lake Nipissing.  Having twenty-years’ worth of data allows us to compare changes over time.

Shoreline Permits

Shoreline permits continue to be issued to all residents (members and non-members) when working in or around water within Nipissing First Nation. The purpose of permits for shoreline work is to guarantee that no harmful alterations are being made to shorelines that interfere with spawning fish habitat and other wildlife habitat.

Shoreline applications are available at the Natural Resources Department or Lands Department.  Call 705-753-2050 for more information or to arrange a site visit.

Safe Boating Guidelines

Members are reminded to adhere to Safe Boating Guidelines at all times.   Download the full Safe Boating Guide or click here to view it online.

Contact Information

Jeff McLeod, Eniigaanzid Mtikeng / Ndawenjgeng (Natural Resources Manager)
705-753-2050 ext. 1325 |

Nikki Commanda, Biologist
705-753-2050 ext. 1251 |

Tyler Couchie, Bylaw Enforcement Officer
Office: 705-753-2050 ext. 1224 | Cell: 705-498-2506

Clayton Goulais, Bylaw Enforcement Officer
Office:  705-753-2050 ext. 1236  |  Cell:  705-498-3823