WE ASKED LAKESIDERS: What do you make of Lake Erie’s health?
THE FISHING FAMILY
Where: Port Burwell
The Martins have been fishing on Lake Erie for 77 years, part of a lake fishery whose economic impact is worth an estimated $244 million to Ontario, according to the Ontario Commercial Fisheries Association.
Tim Martin and his son, Brett, are out on the water by 5 a.m. to fish pickerel, perch and bass, selling their catch at their fish market and supplying area eateries.
Despite all the talk of Erie’s woes, the Martins say the fishing has never been better. People come from hours away to buy their Erie perch, they say. The main problem facing area fishers, says the elder Martin, is that the government keeps slashing the perch quotas.
“We can’t handle any more perch cuts,” he says.
Fifth generation fisher Brett Martin with some of the 1400 pounds of yellow perch he and his crew harvested from Lake Erie aboard the "Amanda Mae" in Port Burwell Ont. on Thursday October 6, 2016. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)
Where: Port Bruce
Retirees Harry and Maggie Vann have been coming to Port Bruce to stay at their family’s lakefront cottage since the late 1960s.
The Jacksonville, Fla., couple say they’re drawn to the area because of the lake’s calming effect and abundance of wildlife, such as the bald eagle that nests on a nearby cliff. The retirees also have a home on a Florida lake, where they say the algae problem — ironically, one of the stubborn issues about Lake Erie, especially in its western reaches — gets so bad that they won’t let their grandchildren go swimming.
“It’s just kind of a green slime on top of the water,” Harry says.
Though neither say they’ve noticed any visible changes in Erie over the decades, both say they’re concerned about its long-term health.
Harry and Maggie Vann of Jacksonville, Florida annually visit their family’s cottage in Port Bruce Ont. Phot shot on Thursday October 6, 2016. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press
Where: Port Rowan
Lake Erie is vital to business at The Boat House in Port Rowan, in the Long Point area. Many of the eatery’s customers are tourists drawn to the beach town because of the water. Groups chartering fishing boats at the adjacent marina flock to the restaurant to eat. And perch is the best-selling item on the menu.
Manager Christina Wilson says she’s noticed the water levels change drastically over the years. She says the water around the marina is getting too dirty, a problem she blames on people tossing their litter into the lake.
Christine Wilson (left) and Aline Heimbuch work at the Boat House Restaurant in Port Rown, Ont. on Thursday October 6, 2016. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)
Where: Port Stanley
St. Thomas residents Roseann Noel and Wilfred Nott love going to Port Stanley to soak up the sun and enjoy the scenery. Noel says she’s noticed the colour of Erie frequently changes.
“All I know is sometimes it looks dirty.” says Noel, adding she isn’t worried about the water quality because she doesn’t go swimming.
“It doesn’t smell,” she adds.
Roseann Noel and Wilfred Nott enjoy a day at Port Stanley Beach in Port Stanley, Ont. on Thursday October 6, 2016. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)