It has become clear that over the last 50 years the Lake Winnipeg Fishery (specifically Walleye) but also Sauger and Whitefish has suffered due to the lack of proper fisheries management. The Lake Winnipeg Fishery is faced with similar challenges as managing moose and requires a collaborative effort from all the stakeholders involved using the shared management model.
These stakeholders have deep investments in the resource and the loss of the fishery could have substantial implications on their livelihoods, traditions, businesses or means of sustenance. One of the largest implications, and one that has become front and center with our current government, is the implications a fisheries crash could and would have on our provincial economy. In 2018, the MWF with our partners conducted a research study (using Probe Research) on the economic value of Lake Winnipeg’s Walleye Fishery. Over a two-year span, this incredible fishery has lured 100,000 anglers (residents and non-residents) to take in Lake Winnipeg’s exceptional fishing opportunities, generating $102 million in net economic activity in the province. MWF sees a parallel relationship between the fisheries economy and the science that supports its sustainability. If we do not trust the science and fix the problems that are creating the decline in populations, the loss of our valued fishery would be a blow to all Manitobans.
MWF is eager to see all the stakeholders reconvene and work collaboratively on a management plan that protects the resource so our economy and resource users can continue to share the opportunities that the Lake Winnipeg Fishery provides. Going forward, MWF has been working with the government to ensure they fulfill a second round of quota buy back and assess commercial net size requirements needed to sustain a healthy fishery.
At the beginning of January, we also brought together representatives from Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association, Walleye Anglers Association of Manitoba, Filipino Anglers Association of Manitoba, Hooked Magazine, Central Walleye Trail and Fish Futures to gather support from the angling community and strengthen communication around the importance and value that this fishery brings to our lifestyles, the economy and all Manitobans. Every group around that table expressed a unanimous desire to work with all Lake Winnipeg stakeholders and committed to exploring any regulation changes brought forth by government that helps ensure a sustainable fishery for future generations to share in.