Alberta Government’s Walleye Obsession

A sustainable plan for managing Alberta’s fisheries needs to adequately cater to both consumptive and experiential anglers while protecting native species and ensuring biodiversity is preserved.

 

A Billion Walleye – But What About Trout?

Over the past 30 years, Alberta’s government has stocked virtually a billion Walleye at the expense of funding other fish stocking programs. At the same time they implemented blanket catch & release programs that limit Walleye retention. These restrictions do not make sense when you consider that Walleye have a lifespan of 30 years and are capable of laying 500,000 eggs!

 

In 2010 alone, 18 million Walleye were stocked in comparison to just 2.3 million rainbow trout. There exists a 10% retention rate on Walleye and a 90% retention rate on trout. Trout are the far more exploited, far less planted species. The province effectively kills off 90% of their trout investment every single year!

 

Does that sound like a sustainable management plan to you?

 

Biodiversity? Not even close!

Dave Depape, SRD Regional Projects Manager, has stated that the primary goal of their programs is to “Ensure biodiversity” within our fisheries and that all fishery management plans must “ensure the overall wellbeing of all fish species present within a water body or watershed.”

 

In reality, the Walleye stocking program accomplished the opposite, decimating fish populations and destroying biodiversity. Walleye are predators that eat massive portions of the forage food base (in one study up to 93%) while reproducing exponentially.

 

On nearly every lake this stocking program has been implemented on every other species of fish present has been severely impacted. This is hugely detrimental to the angling experience in Alberta, discouraging tourism, hurting our environment & driving dollars away from our province.

 

Shaky Science & Shots In The Dark

At the 2010 Provincial Fishery roundtable meeting in Edmonton, Mike Sullivan, a provincial biologist, pointed out that the Walleye program was a “shot in the dark” with little, if any, scientific base line data to back it up. In fact, Mel Knight, minister of the SRD, personally expressed frustration and confusion with the actions of the Fish & Wildlife division.

 

What is it that the SRD executives and the F&W management team are being so well paid to do? Certainly not implement unsustainable programs based on unsubstantiated ideas!

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