The spectacular fishing opportunities coupled with idyllic scenery, make it easy to fall in love with eastern Georgian Bay and the North Channel. The Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC) has been dedicated to protecting fisheries and enhancing the aquatic ecosystem in this region for close to two decades. Now, after many years of hard work and numerous accomplishments, they have decided to close the organization. However, many members will continue to volunteer with the Georgian Bay Biosphere’s stewardship committee.
The Eastern Georgian Bay/North Channel Fisheries Stewardship Council, as it was originally called, was formed in 2000 in response to concerns over a perceived decline in the quality of fishing and aquatic environments more broadly. In its early years, the Council worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to gather public input and improve fisheries management.
Since the beginning, the Council has been made up of a variety of stakeholders, all concerned about how fish are managed as well as the entire aquatic ecosystem – recognizing that healthy fish populations need a healthy ecosystem.
In 2006, the Council was renamed the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC) when it was incorporated into the MNRF’s Ontario Stewardship Network. The Council continued to focus on stewardship activities, including walleye spawning habitat enhancements, bass nest creation, fish culture and stocking, and hosting annual workshops.
Six years later, the Stewardship Network Program, as a provincial program was discontinued and unfortunately, many Stewardship Councils across Ontario were forced to close due to lack of resources, capacity, and other reasons. After a brief hiatus, EGBSC incorporated as a not-for-profit in 2014 and was back to undertaking environmental stewardship projects.
Eric McIntyre, former EGBSC Coordinator and retired MNRF Fisheries Biologist, said, “It was such a pleasure and honour to be affiliated with the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council. … Although I genuinely thank all members, there is a special place in my heart for the founding members”.
The Council endeavoured to complement the work of other organizations, communities, and agencies in order to ensure eastern Georgian Bay remains healthy. The list of the Council’s achievements over the years is impressive, and there is no doubt that its members have made a lasting impact. Visit the Projects page for details on past projects.
Arunas Liskauskas, Management Biologist with the Upper Great Lakes Management Unit, had this to say about the Council, “… sometimes in one’s career there are certain initiatives that expand beyond the work environment and become a special part of who you are. Back in the late 1990s the UGLMU was striving to better engage the passionate stakeholders in the Lake Huron basin and in particular Georgian Bay and the North Channel. It was at that time that I was introduced to many of the participants that would be assisting us with fisheries related matters over the years. Many of those people had a profound impact on how I perceived and became aware of aquatic resources on the lake and they inspired me by their commitment and passion to protect and sustain those resources.”
The passion and dedication Council members showed through the years will not soon be forgotten. Greg Mason, General Manager of the Georgian Bay Biosphere remarks how “very fortunate we are to have the passion and interests of many of the Council’s members continue in a renewed fashion with the Biosphere’s stewardship committee. Their work is a significant legacy and we look forward to honouring all former members with continued work on the coast.” A recent donation of the balance of Council funds to the Biosphere will continue to support important stewardship activities.