Fishing In Your Backyard: An Urban Recreational Fisheries Strategy for the Lake Ontario Northwest Waterfront

The Lake Ontario waterfront offers convenient, accessible angling opportunities allowing people to connect with nature and enjoy time with family or friends.“Fishing in Your Backyard” along the Lake Ontario Northwest Waterfront encourages responsible and sustainable use of Ontario’s natural resources and promotes angling, healthy habitats and accessible fishing sites throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Maintaining and enhancing our urban fisheries for future generations requires involvement from all levels of government, communities and stakeholders and I look forward to working with our valued partners.

Honorable Bill Mauro
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry


Angling participation has been declining in Ontario (and across North America), particularly in urban areas where opportunities to enjoy the natural environment can be limited. The Lake Ontario waterfront has the potential to provide convenient local (shoreline and nearshore) angling opportunities that are easily accessible through public transportation. The nearshore habitat and the fish community along the waterfront are improving. These improvements include better water quality, better overall lake health, and fish that are much safer to eat than decades ago. In order to highlight fishing opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), along with five Conservation Authorities (Toronto and Region, Credit Valley, Central Lake Ontario, Halton Region and Ganaraska Region) and other government agencies and partners, have initiated the development of an Urban Recreational Fisheries Strategy for the northwest shore of Lake Ontario.


A healthy Lake Ontario waterfront provides excellent recreational fishing opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The Strategy’s vision is to create a strategic framework to enhance those fishing opportunities, protect and restore fish habitat where needed, encourage people to fish the Lake Ontario nearshore waters, and support the creation of quality public access sites for recreational anglers to enjoy.


  • Build upon existing fisheries knowledge of the Strategy area.
  • Integrate complementary information from adjacent regions.
  • Identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities associated with current recreational fisheries.
  • Recommend strategies for improving public access and establishing clear direction among municipalities to enhance and maintain that public access.
  • Recommend strategies to promote the recreational fishery by means of social marketing, signage, family fishing events, programming and building synergies between key stakeholders.

Project Objectives

  • Guide local, regional and provincial stakeholders that have local fishing interests.
  • Identify the state and health of the fish communities and provide guidance for managing recreational fishing.
  • Identify waterfront areas where recreational fisheries can be promoted.
  • Identify areas where recreational fisheries can be improved through opening access and/or aquatic habitat rehabilitation.
  • Work with local tourism and recreation stakeholders to promote public fishing opportunities.
  • Identify and use a variety of media channels to promote urban fishing and awareness of the fisheries resource to the public, including diverse ethnic communities.
  • Increase the number of licenced anglers within the GTA.
  • Identify and recommend methods to promote the message about Lake Ontario, fishing and the benefits of restoring and protecting habitat. Methods should focus on engaging children and youth.


This Urban Recreational Fisheries Strategy makes the following recommendations for municipal and provincial officials, stakeholders and others tasked with managing this recreational activity.

  1. Maintain public access with no net loss of existing public fishing areas.
  2. Expand fishing opportunities with improved access.
  3. Improve the quality of the fishery.
  4. Strengthen partnerships.
  5. Promote angling in the Strategy area.
  6. Improve signage.