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01 April 2024

Access For All

Protected areas for all Manitobans

This article was published in the Friday edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. Anglers and hunters have been without a regular voice in the paper since the Free Press stopped using freelance writers a year ago. I had my column in the Travel and Destination section for 30 years. Over the course of that time we were able to write about the issues that affected our right to fish and hunt. In recent years we were able to initiate many changes that promoted sustainability of our resources. This happened because the stakeholders in this province worked together with a united voice. The Manitoba Wildlife Federation is part of that group as is ours, the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters

Don Lamont- Executive Director of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters and the Editor of Hooked Magazine

Chris Heald is a senior policy adviser with the Manitoba Wildlife Federation.


MANY Manitobans live here because we value our province’s wild spaces and the opportunity they provide to hike, birdwatch, fish and hunt.


Since 1944 the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF) has been the voice of Manitoba’s licensed anglers, hunters and conservationists.

The MWF supports actions that protect our public lands from industrial development and promote sustainable use and enjoyment of our fish, wildlife and outdoor resources.

With an important caveat, we support the Manitoba government’s recent announcement of the potential designation of the Seal River Watershed as an Indigenous-protected and conserved area and possibly a national park reserve.

The caveat? The establishment of protected areas has, in some jurisdictions, unfairly excluded access for licensed hunters and anglers, including licensed outfitters who host tourists coming to enjoy our outdoor spaces.

We ask the government of Manitoba to ensure that the ultimate designation of the Seal River Watershed maintains opportunities for all Manitobans to enjoy this vast area of provincial public land.

Manitoba’s licensed hunters and anglers have been enjoying the heritage of hunting and angling in northern Manitoba for up to five generations, and the MWF is firmly opposed to restrictions being placed on public access to our outdoor spaces.

A 2019 economic and social impact study funded by Travel Manitoba found that licensed hunters and anglers directly invest $1.035 billion annually into Manitoba’s economy.

Withdrawing the opportunity for licensed hunting and angling in this large area of northern Manitoba will directly impact not only hunters and anglers but also lodges and outfitters, putting at risk the revenue and employment opportunities that these lodges contribute to Manitoba’s economy.

In 2009, all of Manitoba’s political parties unanimously agreed to recognize the rights of licensed hunters and anglers in The Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Heritage Act.

Our rights as Manitoba residents and Manitoba business owners must be defended by elected public officials. These commitments are very important to the thousands of Manitobans who enjoy our outdoor heritage.

As stated, the MWF supports all actions that protect our public lands from industrial development.

We promote sustainable use of our resources and uphold and respect Indigenous traditional activities in this area and the goal to enhance regional cultures.

However, in areas of public land such as the Seal River Watershed, we urge the government to preserve public access and involve all stakeholders.