Manitoba region launches Fish Forward initiative
Building robust and sustainable fisheries is crucial in securing a cleaner, healthier and greener future for Canadians. To further advance the goal towards a sustainable future, Indigenous fishers and commercial freshwater fisheries in Manitoba are proud to announce the launch of Fish Forward. This initiative encourages Indigenous fishers to achieve and maintain eco-certification, and connects them with industry partners (restaurants, stores, fish buyers and food service providers) who are seeking to source fish products from sustainable fisheries, an identified need in the marketplace.
In support of freshwater commercial fisheries in Manitoba, Indigenous Services Canada provided an investment of $190,000 towards Fish Forward to help establish this groundbreaking initiative, which will help connect eco-certified Indigenous fishers with markets for their locally, sustainable harvested freshwater fish.
The organizations leading Fish Forward are:
- Indigenous Services Canada
- Province of Manitoba
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
- International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
As Fish Forward expands in Manitoba, and as more fisheries achieve eco-certification, Canadians can take comfort that fish from Manitoba are harvested sustainably, providing protection to fish habitats for generations to come.
Eco-certification ensures that a fishery is sustainable, protects the surrounding ecosystem and is managed appropriately through an independent third-party assessment process. Products from an eco-certified fishery carry an ecolabel which assures consumers and buyers that it is sourced sustainably and traceable.
As of November 2022, there are 2 fisheries in Manitoba that are eco-certified:
- Waterhen Lake walleye and northern pike commercial gillnet fishery was the first freshwater fishery in Manitoba and Canada and the second in the world to achieve eco-certification in 2014. Waterhen Lake was recertified in 2020 and includes the communities of Skownan First Nation, the Métis community of Mallard and Rock Ride, and the village of Waterhen.
- Cedar Lake Walleye and Northern Pike Fisheries achieved MSC certification in November 2022 and includes the communities of Chemawawin Cree Nation and the Métis community of Easterville.
Lake Waterhen and Cedar Lake fisheries are currently the only source of Marine Stewardship Council certified sustainable walleye in Manitoba and the only source of MSC certified sustainable northern pike in the world. Other Indigenous communities in Manitoba are currently exploring options to secure MSC certification of their local commercial fisheries.
Indigenous Services Canada's support for Fish Forward is part of the broader Indigenous Inland Commercial Fisheries Initiative (IICFI). The IICFI brings together federal, provincial and Indigenous partners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to sustain and grow the Indigenous commercial fishing industry. The IICFI is funded through the Indigenous Services Canada's Strategic Partnerships Initiative program.
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