Niagara Gazette — Fishing is big business on Lake Ontario. According to a recent study conducted by Niagara University in 2009 and 2010, sportfishing is responsible for a $30 million annual impact in Niagara County alone! However, water levels are already causing a negative impact when combined for a need for dredging. One case study involves the port of Wilson. Last year, the port lost at least a month of its boating season because of accidents that were reported in the Federal channel. An alert has been issued by the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the problems and word is out among the boating community that there are some serious issues.
Even if some money became available from the Federal government for dredging, it only would address part of the problem. Dredging would take place in the Federal channel (which is some 4,200 feet long) – not in the rest of the harbor, such as where the boats are docked or launched. In Plan 2014, the water level implementation would call for lower lows and higher highs – lower water than we experienced last fall. The area harbors, marinas and launch ramps would not have been able to function.
In the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott, named the Ultimate Fishing Town by the World Fishing Network in 2012, the boat launch was completely shut down at one point late last fall due to the low water conditions. While the Federal channel for the harbor could still use some dredging, it doesn’t address the problems in and around the marina. The Federal channel is essentially the area between the two Federal piers in Olcott.
When the DEC press office was asked to address any concerns about water levels in Lake Ontario, this was how they responded: “Other than issues related to boat access/navigation, the low water should not have any impact on fishing in 2013. It could, however, negatively impact natural reproduction for several cool water fish species, such as northern pike, yellow perch, and muskellunge. Those impacts could possibly result in poorer fishing for those species several years from now.”