Name your fish Manitoba

Fish aren’t just for catching and eating. They’re for naming too.

The government is asking for help selecting a fish species to represent the province as Manitoba’s official fish.

Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced the contest May 10, a day before fishing season opened.

“Selecting a provincial fish recognizes the important role of fishing to our province, culturally and economically,” said Mackintosh. “Manitobans have some of the best fishing opportunities in the world, with access to more than 30 species of sport fish in diverse habitats across the province and the opportunity to see more than 60 other species in their native habitats.

“I want Manitobans to consider the value of our conservation efforts by providing them an opportunity to make a case for the fish they believe best represents our fishing heritage.”

Manitobans can go online and nominate a fish at www.manitobafisheries.com.

Part of the nomination process involves sharing personal stories and offering a pitch for why their choice should be the one. A volunteer committee of passionate fishers will recommend two options to the government.

Manitoba has the third most diverse freshwater fish population of all provinces. More than 80 of Manitoba’s native fish are eligible. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 1, 2014.

The committee will also award 20 complimentary fishing licences for next year’s season to those who submit the most compelling personal stories and the top three will also be posted online and in Manitoba’s angling guide.

Once selected, the provincial fish will join the prairie crocus (adopted in 1906), provincial bird — great grey owl (1987), provincial tree — white spruce (1991) and the provincial soil — Newdale soil (2010). The province unofficially recognizes the bison as its provincial animal.

Other jurisdictions have already claimed some of Manitoba’s most popular sport fish. Saskatchewan and Minnesota have the walleye, and North Dakota has the northern pike.

Local possibilities include the channel catfish, freshwater drum, goldeye, the lake sturgeon, and lake trout.

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