Federal and Provincial Laws

Both provincial and federal laws regulate fishing in Ontario.


The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act is the main provincial law regulating fishing.  Fishing licences are issued under this act.


The federal Fisheries Act is the primary legislation protecting fisheries in Canada.


The Ontario Fishery Regulations, under the Fisheries Act, establish such things as fishing seasons, catch and possession limits and size restrictions.


Changing the Ontario Fishery Regulations is a time-consuming process and requires federal approval.  However, seasons, limits and size restrictions already in the Fisheries Act can be changed more quickly by the province using Variation Orders.



The fishing regulations under all relevant legislation are described for anglers in the Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary.  If regulation changes are made between printings of the Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary, the ministry communicates these changes to the public and posts them on the ministry's website. Anglers are encouraged to visit ontario.ca/fishing for links to the current Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary and any updates.


Conservation Officers

Conservation Officers have powers of inspection, arrest, search and seizure under the various statutes they enforce, including the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and the Fisheries Act. When carrying out their duties Conservation Officers may do the following:


  • Stop and inspect a vehicle, boat or aircraft
  • Ask questions relevant to the inspection
  • Enter onto private property in the discharge of their duties 
  • Inspect buildings or other places
  • Search with a warrant
  • Search without a warrant in circumstances requiring immediate action
  • Require the assistance of persons to complete an inspection of coolers and containers 
  • Seize items related to an offence
  • Arrest anyone the Conservation Officer believes has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an offence.


Police Officers appointed under the Police Services Act, RCMP Officers, National Wildlife Officers, National Park Wardens and Conservation Officers of all border states and provinces are designated Conservation Officers in Ontario.