What’s the best fish to represent Manitoba?
That’s what the province wants anglers and anyone else to answer in the next few months as a special committee — headed up by Free Press fishing columnist Don Lamont — decides what Manitoba’s official fish should be.
"Manitobans have some of the best fishing opportunities in the world, with access to more than 30 species of sport fish in diverse habitats across the province," Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said today, the day before the fishing season opens in southern Manitoba.
Starting Saturday, Manitobans can nominate a fish at www.manitobafisheries.com. The nomination process also allows people to share personal stories and explain why their fish of choice should be the provincial fish.
Macintosh said more than 80 of Manitoba's native fish will be considered as candidates. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 1, 2014.
The committee will also award 20 complimentary fishing licences for next year's season to those who submit the most compelling stories and the top three will also be posted online and in Manitoba's angling guide.
"We have a great resource and I am glad the province is recognizing it with this initiative," Lamont said. "Anything we can do as a province to promote and protect this resource is welcomed."
Once selected, the provincial fish will be proposed for official adoption as an amendment to the Coat of Arms, Emblems and the Manitoba Tartan Act, Mackintosh added.
Many other provinces and states have official fish including British Columbia (Pacific Salmon), Alberta (Bull Trout), Saskatchewan (Walleye), Northwest Territories (Arctic grayling), Minnesota (Walleye) and North Dakota (Northern Pike).
The official fish would also takes its place next to the other symbols of Manitoba.
The provincial flower is the prairie crocus (adopted in 1906), the provincial bird is the great gray owl (1987), the provincial tree is the white spruce (1991) and the provincial soil is Newdale soil (2010). The province unofficially recognizes the bison as the provincial animal.