Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/9/2018 (616 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s been a wild fall across the Prairies, with some early snow and heavy rain. Luckily for me, before the bad weather arrived, I had a great waterfowl trip to the western part of Manitoba at Birdtail Waterfowl — one of the premier waterfowl guiding operations in North America.
On a previous adventure two years ago, we hunted sandhill cranes. On this trip, we were after the abundant ducks and geese which exist in the myriad potholes and small lakes in this beautiful rolling countryside. During the two days, we had some great field shoots for both ducks and geese — with help from the expert guides that owner Paul Conchatre hires. I also ran into old friend Duane Whyte. He and friend Michael Leipsic hunted with us on the second day and I got an opportunity to see Leipsic’s yellow labrador, Caesar, in action. This dog was a pure marvel, retrieving birds we would have never found in long grass and over hills and dales. That alone made the trip.
In recent years, I haven’t had many opportunities to hunt, so when Conchatre invited me for a two-day visit, I was thrilled. I have come to know Conchatre over the past few years through his role as president of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association. Many evenings have been spent discussing issues affecting anglers and hunters in this province. This trip didn’t turn out any different, with Conchatre expressing frustration with the current provincial government.
While money for tourism promotion continues to rise from a new funding formula, Conchatre says the management of the resource has gotten worse under the Progressive Conservatives. One of his major concerns is the lack of consultation with those working at trying to make a living in the industry.
Conchatre says this is a direct result of outdated policies in Sustainable Development that don’t keep up with the new direction from Tourism. He believes many of those tourism dollars are not staying in the province — a direct hit on return of investment. While his operation is booked two years ahead, the outdated regulations and policies are not allowing new operators to get licensed. This is also very clear in the management of the resource itself. While Sustainable Development has good people working in the department, there has been no movement on suggested changes to the way the department works. These suggestions include a working model similar to the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia, which runs as an independent business at arm’s length from government.
Many people I deal with call the regime paralyzed.
As for the resource, one needs to look no further than Lake Winnipeg to see the latest disaster. I sit on a Lake Winnipeg sport fishing stakeholder group which will be releasing a Probe Research report indicating the lake is on the verge of collapse. Dr. Brian Kotak, Manitoba Wildlife Federation managing director, says, "If this provincial government is concerned at all about our economy, they can’t continue to ignore the sport fishing industry for walleye on our beloved Lake Winnipeg. The economic value of angling for just this one species on one lake is staggering." And here is the crux of the matter — the economic value of angling for walleye on Lake Winnipeg is many times that of the commercial fishing industry, and yet our public fish stocks on the lake are being decimated by overfishing by the commercial industry. "This needs to be addressed now, as we no longer have the luxury of time," Kotak says.
Dr. Scott Forbes is an advocate for sustainability — it is the cornerstone of his work as an ecologist at the University of Winnipeg. Forbes worked on the eco-certification of Waterhen Lake. Historical data collected on commercial fishery show a total collapse of the sauger population in Lake Winnipeg, a result of overfishing with three-inch mesh commercial nets. At one time, sauger made up more than 50 per cent of the commercial harvest; now it’s less than one per cent. Last year, not one Master Angler sauger was registered. All of these issues have been pointed out numerous times to Sustainable Development since 2015 — with no results.
While government does acknowledge the multitude of problems, nothing is being resolved — so much so, plans are in the works for anglers and hunters in this province to stage a major protest at the legislature.
Angler’s notes: The Manitoba Fly Fishing Association and Hooked Magazine are bringing the International Fly Fishing Film Festival to Winnipeg on Oct. 11 at the Park Theatre. This event will take you around the world with a series of short and feature films. This is extreme fishing at its most exciting! Tickets for this event are $10. To purchase online, visit the promotional page at showclix.com/event/if42018winnipegmb. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the film starts at 7 p.m.
The Park Theatre is located at 698 Osborne St.
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