Fishing season has arrived on the prairies and elsewhere. I should begin by declaring that I have absolutely no ‘skin in the game’ on this topic. In my entire life I have caught exactly one fish, and that’s one more than my beloved has caught in her life. Neither of us finds joy in spending hours drifting in the sun or the rain and coming home empty.
I did do radio play by play of a bass tournament a couple of times when I lived on Lake of the Woods, and I fully appreciate the value that sport fishing brings to the Canadian economy. Our country is blessed with an endless number of beautiful lakes, and on the whole we have done a pretty good job of managing fish stocks.
The province of Manitoba has maintained a fish hatchery in the Whiteshell region for 75 years, but somebody goofed this year when it came to the stocking of Walleye which I will always refer to as Pickerel. The hatchery produces millions of fry each year, which are dumped into the lakes to make sure our anglers have a good time. Seems they were short-staffed at the hatchery, and they weren’t able to produce enough pickerel fry. There’s no excuse other than bad management because this a classic example of a resource and a business that is totally sustaining, not to mention sustainable. A Manitoba fishing license costs $10 which is not much more than the price 50 years ago. The annual total of all those fees is about $850,000, and that’s what pays for the annual fishstocking program, including the hatchery.
When it’s done right, it’s a great story, unlike what governments have done with freshwater commercial fishing. In 1969, the government of Pierre Trudeau created a strange monopoly called the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. They forced many people right out of the fishing business. As outlined in the latest report by Canada’s Auditor General, the crown corporation is likely to soon disappear because of a sorry history of corruption and mismanagement.
To all of you who fish, have a great season, and please manage the resource carefully for the future.
I’m Roger Currie