Minister Squires says she is moving forward on eco-certification of lakes, especially for Lake Winnipegosis
Friday May 11, I asked the Minister of Sustainable Development what is happening with the eco-certification of lakes, and particularly with respect to Lake Winnipegosis where the pickerel fishery has, for many years, been severely impacted. My question and her response are below (from Hansard)
Mr. Gerrard: The minister and her government campaigned on a plan for eco-certification of the fisheries on Manitoba's three great lakes, and I'm going to ask specifically about Lake Winnipegosis because it's the worst affected. And I would ask the minister, what is her plan and timeline for eco-certification for Lake Winnipegosis?
Ms. Squires: I thank the member for bringing up the issue of sustainability on our lakes. And I do want to mention and commend the member for some of his passionate advocacy in relation to some of our species, the sturgeon and other species in Manitoba. And just for generally having a concern about our–the sustainability of our fishers.
Member knows that Skownan First Nation was the first to achieve eco-certification to much success. That was a huge, international success, and we're delighted to be continuing to work with them on their goals for maintaining that certification.
We have 16 other fisheries in the province that are engaged with us, right now, in pursuing eco‑certification. We are at the preliminary stages of working with these fisheries. And we're pursuing this with great excitement. We do believe that it is a collaborative approach. An eco-certification is undoubtedly something that we need to work hand‑in-hand with all of the fishers, all the indigenous communities that rely on the fisheries for their sustenance, and their economic development and well-being. And so it is a very collaborative process and one that we're quite excited about.
Now, those 16 fisheries are definitely the smaller fisheries in the province. Work does continue on Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg and specifically, member had mentioned, Lake Winnipegosis, which we know is certainly a fishery that requires definite, significant commitment to. And that there's a lot of things that need to be done for sustainability in that regard to the Lake Winnipegosis and the fishery. So we are engaging in-certific a very collaborative approach to them.
We are hearing a little bit more consensus now than any time before on the need for sustainable–a sustainable practice and sustainability on the fishery. What all the fishers have said to us–and I take this very, very seriously–the fishers are asking us to be a little bit more part of the data collection process and to have access to the data a little bit more–have it more readily available to them. So we're looking at ways in which we can engage them in collaboration on the data.
And, when we're all in agreement with the data and the figures, that would certainly allow us to then lead to an evidence-based approach. And when we use that evidence-based approach, it's definitely more–we get farther faster when we all agree on the evidence that's presented. And, up until now, we've seen a lot of disbelief, if you will, from a variety of people who use the lake in terms of the sustainability of the resource. And we are, first and foremost, looking forward to that citizen engagement and collaborative approach to the evidence, that would point to the need for very urgent, sustainable initiatives and eco-certification.
So it is a collaborative approach, and I, certainly, am very mindful of the many people throughout Manitoba–and I've had the pleasure of spending time on the lake, and there was one day in particular, it was a -30° degree day and some fishers had taken me out on the lake and had introduced me to their way of life and their practices, as commercial harvesters and fishers.
And there's a balance to be had, and I know members opposite is aware of that, and we need to work hand-in-hand with, you know, our fishers, who we know are predominantly indigenous fishers and who have very limited economic opportunities. And we want to manage our resources sustainably with them, in conjunction with them, as we look at eco-certification of our fisheries, including Lake Winnipegosis, especially Lake Winnipegosis.