Lake of the Prairies
Res #: 40-02A
Responses Received: No
Departments: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
WHEREAS, Lake of the Prairies is a man made reservoir created by the Shellmouth Dam; and
WHEREAS, the Lake has been stocked to create a tourism and recreational sport fishing environment; and
WHEREAS, cottages and campground facilities, year round homes and related supporting businesses have been established as a result of the lake's fishing capacity; and
WHEREAS, tourism has flourished to coincide with the lake becoming the number one lake for Walleye in Manitoba and Assiniboine River in Saskatchewan creating a resort atmosphere around the lake and surrounding area; and
WHEREAS, communities such as Calder, Wroxton, and MacNutt rely strongly on tourism activity from the lake and will be affected by any negative effect to the capacity;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans take immediate steps to stop the wide-scale netting of fish by First Nations Communities on Lake of the Prairies and the Assiniboine River; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that these departments be made aware of the rapidly depleting fish stocks, the long-term harm and the negative impact this commercial activity is having on the lake and on the communities and businesses that surround it.
Response from the Minister of Conservation, Oscar Lathlin:
Manitoba Conservation is well aware of the issues and controversy surrounding the netting activities that occurred on Lake of the Prairies this past winter. The department is committed to continuing to work with all users of the fishery to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery and to protect the constitutional right of the First Nation's people to fish domestically for food.
The level of netting harvest by First Nation's fishers on Lake of the Prairies that occurred was a source of concern for my department, both from a perspective of sustainability and the commercial sale of harvest fish. Additional staff resources from Manitoba Conservation were assigned to investigate all complaints and concerns that were received by the department. In this regard a number of nets that were improperly marked were confiscated and investigations were completed in the areas of fish wastage, fish sales and improper marking of nets.
In addition, throughout the winter the department met with stakeholders from the Lake of the Prairies fishery, including First Nations, to hear their concerns and provide information on department management of the lake. As a result of these information exchanges, First Nation's fishers, by their own choice, ceased netting activities and have not returned to the lake. These discussions with stakeholders continued and recently a lake advisory committee has been formed to provide more direct communication and input for local users on the management of the fishery.
Based on information currently available and past management experience on Lake of the Prairies, the department is optimistic that the high quality nature of the walleye fishery can be maintained into the future. Department staff will continue to monitor the fishery to assess the status of the fish stocks and ensure that all regulations governing their use are appropriately enforced. Appropriate action will be taken against any individuals involved in illegal activities.
I can assure you that the conservation and sustainability of the fishery remains the highest priority for management. The department is prepared to undertake any actions necessary in order to ensure that Lake of the Prairies will remain viable for future generations of anglers.
Thank you for your interest in Lake of the Prairies. I am confident that the issues raised in your resolution will be addressed in the ongoing management of the lake and that all users will enjoy excellent recreational angling opportunities on an ongoing basis from the fishery.