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Home » Breaking News » Changes to Fishing Regulations in the Mountain National Parks and Closures in response to Whirling Disease in Banff National Park

What’s happening?
·        In an effort to reduce the impacts of whirling disease (WD), which is not harmful to humans but can have significant effects on some fish populations, Parks Canada has made significant changes to its Mountain Park Fishing Regulations. This includes catch and release angling only within Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks with the exception of lake trout in the Lake Minnewanka Reservoir  For all other waterbodies in these parks, it is now unlawful to retain your catch.
·        Felt-soled wading boots are now prohibited to reduce the risk of increasing or spreading aquatic invasive species within Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Jasper, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke and Waterton Lakes national parks. Decontamination measures are largely ineffective at eliminating aquatic invasive species in felt, as the material is difficult to thoroughly dry and penetrate with chemicals.
·        Johnson Lake Reservoir and the surrounding area is currently closed to all human use, to allow Parks Canada to safely begin removing fish via netting and electro-fishing. Through extensive research and the completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), we determined that removing the fish in the lake may work to eliminate whirling disease from this water body by breaking the lifecycle of this fish parasite. Johnson Lake will re-open for day use between July 1 to September 4, 2017, however fishing will not be permitted at Johnson Lake Reservoir in 2017.

  •       Parks Canada is confident that the removal of fish from Johnson Lake will be effective due to the lake’s location and the fact that it is relatively small in size and shallow in depth. If we remove all the fish we will be removing the host for the disease. Once the fish host is eradicated, this will help eradicate the disease because the worms themselves cannot pass the disease to each other without the host and cannot complete its lifecyle.
  •       In addition, angling closures to protect westslope cutthroat trout critical habitat are in place in the following areas:
    Banff National Park:
    ·        Bow River between Bow and Hector lake
    ·        Outlet Creek
    ·        Big and Little Fish lake  (already closed to fishing by regulations)
    ·        Babel Creek
    ·        Little Herbert Lake
    ·        Mystic Lake
    ·        Sawback Lake
    ·        Sawback Creek
    ·        Cutthead Creek
    ·        Elk Lake

What does this mean for you and our visitors?
·        Parks Canada takes the protection of its aquatic ecosystem seriously and is collaborating with the provinces and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to better understand the extent of whirling disease and is proactively taking steps to try and stop its spread.
·        Parks Canada appreciates the help and support of the public and anglers in helping to reduce the spread of whirling disease by abiding by the 2017 National Park Fishing Regulations, abiding by all closures and posted signs and by checking, cleaning, draining and drying all gear, toys, boats and pets when leaving and before entering another body of water.
·        For those angling at Lake Minnewanka Reservoir in Banff National Park:
–        never transport live fish from one water body to another as this activity is illegal.
–        properly dispose of fish parts, from any lawfully harvested lake trout, by placing them in a bear proof garbage bin.
–        never discard of fish parts into the sanitary sewer by way of your toilet or kitchen sink, as these eventually re-enter a watercourse.For more information on whirling disease please visit: 

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fact Sheet Whirling Disease:

Parks Canada Whirling Disease webpage:

Province of Alberta:

If you have any questions about whirling disease or decontamination of equipment, please call the Alberta Invasive Species hotline: 1855 336 BOAT

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