Some of the nearly 1,000 people who rely on Lake Winnipeg’s commercial fishery for their livelihoods say the current quota system hurts their pocket books and results in thousands of kilograms of wasted fish.

Bruce Benson has been fishing out of Arnes Harbour for years and targets pickerel, Manitoba’s prize catch that is also known as walleye.

"It's a beautiful fish. See the beautiful green colour. The cheeks are a delicacy and it's famous all over the world,” said Benson.

But he frequently finds other fish in his net as well, including whitefish, which counts against his seasonal quotas.

Pickerel sells for nearly twice as much as whitefish. Rather than allowing the less expensive species to count against their quotas, Benson says fishermen have been known to simply discard or waste the whitefish.

"Economically, I don't have a choice. We're forced into this situation. We're between a rock and a hard place,” said Benson.

The province already made one exception this year, allowing each fisherman to take and sell 400 kg whitefish off-quota.

Benson said fishermen used that up in just six days.

"Walleye has a higher price than whitefish, therefore fishers ‎prefer to catch walleye,” said the province in a statement. “If we increase the quota to recognize this year's abundance of whitefish, walleye could also be caught. We are concerned about the sustainability of the walleye if quotas are increased further."

But there could be another solution.

According to Winnipeg Harvest, 60,000 different Manitobans use food banks each month.

The charity says it is lobbying the government to donate unwanted whitefish to them instead of wasting it, which is an illegal practice.

"We don't have a solution yet,” said Donald Benham, Director of Hunger and Poverty Awareness at Winnipeg Harvest. “But we're very hopeful that we will and we're very encouraged by Manitoba fishermen who want to share protein and good fish with us."

For now, fishermen and the province remain at odds over the current quota system.