Lake Winnipeg fishers get to keep nets in water longer as province extends commercial season

Commercial fishers who were supposed to pull up the nets at the end of this month will get an extra week on Lake Winnipeg.

The Manitoba government is extending the fall season by seven days to Nov. 6.  

The extension is due to a 60 per cent slump in the harvest for this time of year attributed to COVID-19-related market changes, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development said.

Fish processors are also on board with the extension, a government news release says.

Widespread pandemic-related closures in the restaurant and hospitality industry led to dramatic drops in demand for a variety of fish species, including walleye, the main money-maker for most fishers on Lake Winnipeg.

At the end of April, the federal government announced $62.5 million in support through the Canadian seafood stablization fund to help the sea and freshwater fish sectors absorb some of the pandemic blow.

Some Lake Winnipeg fishers complained the fund wasn’t geared toward harvesters. A few weeks later, the federal government upped its commitment to $470-million to support fish harvesters.

In addition to the slump in demand, Lake Winnipeg fishers have complained about the provincial government’s decision to move forward with a net mesh size change this season, which was announced a year earlier.

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