Will parliament let walleye fishing on Lake Winnipeg collapse?
Thousands of fisherman travel to Lake Winnipeg every winter in pursuit of the giant greenback walleye, but this year there was one common theme: less giant greenbacks.
Anglers want sustainability of their prized fish and their greatest concerns lie within the commercial fishing industry.
Recreational fishermen have been begging the Manitoba parliament to change management practices on the lake. The voices of walleye sportsmen everywhere were finally heard as Jon Gerrard took the issue to parliament this spring.
Yesterday, in Question Period I raised concerns about the Walleye in Lake Winnipeg. There are indications the walleye are not doing well. This needs addressing urgently. See my questions in the video.
Professor Scott Forbes from the University of Winnipeg had an article in the Winnipeg's Hooked Magazine discussing the future of the lake. According to Forbes, the larger nets being used by commercial fisherman are catching many of the lake's largest fish. This targets the 2001 year class that produces many of the trophy fish that anglers travel so far to seek.
Considering that the largest fish are also the greatest reproducers, this puts the future of the lake in even greater jeopardy. The fish quota on Lake Winnipeg is over 14 million pounds, and there are no restrictions on size or species of fish.
A similar situation occurred on Lake Winnipegosis in the 1960s, where fishing on the lake collapsed. Unfortunately, preventing this is no easy feat for parliament. Commercial fisherman are one of the largest stakeholders and economic drivers for the province. Any improvements that could develop will also require time.
As anglers, all we can do is practice conservation and continue informing others.