Commercial Fishing Senate Bill 1145: Help Michigan’s Commercial Fishermen

Fish Folk,
Eric and I need your help. Please call Representative Hughes office at 517-373-3436 or 877-633-0331. You can also email her at HollyHughes@house.mi.gov and ask her to hold a Committee Hearing for SB 1145 (Commercial Fishing). She is the Committee Chair for Tourism and Outdoor Recreation and this Bill is currently waiting for her to schedule a hearing. All you need to say or email is,
“I support a Committee Hearing for Commercial Fishing Senate Bill 1145.” 
That’s it. We just want the chance to tell our side of the story to lawmakers and that’s what happens in a Committee Hearing.
More Details
SB 1145 repeals a 50-year-old Department of Conservation (DNR) Rule that banned the commercial fishing of lake trout in Lakes Michigan and Superior in order to rehabilitate the lake trout population. Repeal of this rule would allow the DNR to assign bycatch (non-targeted fish or incidental catch) of lake trout to commercial fishers on a case by case situation.
Michigan’s 13 full-time commercial fishers support this Bill because we are seeing a huge increase of lake trout in our whitefish nets. Currently, any lake trout caught must be returned to the water, we are not even allowed to take one home for dinner. This is a waste of food. We’d like the opportunity to take home some of these trout to sell in our fish markets. Any by-catch assigned would still be under the jurisdiction of the DNR and it is not even guaranteed the DNR would assign lake trout by-catch to anyone.
On November 27, I testified to the Senate Natural Resources Committee regarding this Bill. You can watch that session at this link: Please forward to minute 23 to see the portion on commercial fishing.
If you watch the video, you can hear that there are some organized sports groups that oppose this bill. But not all sports groups oppose it— in fact, Great Lakes Salmon Initiative has been openly advocating for the commercial take of lake trout for several years now. The Wisconsin DNR is also considering allow the by-catch of lake trout. This is why SB 1145 deserves a Committee Hearing— let’s get this out in the open.
More to Know
Many sports groups oppose the bill because they feel it will encourage the tribal fishers to ask for more commercial lake trout during the 2020 Consent Decree negotiations. I completely disagree with them and this is why:
The DNR passed the lake trout ban in 1965. The first Tribal Consent Decree was in 1990. In 1990 the ban DID NOT STOP the five Tribes from assigning lake trout as a commercial fish for their fishers. Why would an old Rule, that didn’t have any effect in 1990, have any influence in 2020?
Michigan’s management of its commercial fishery is a big issue, even though there are only 13 full-time fishers left, and HB 1145 is just a small step. Please call Rep. Hughes and ask her to schedule a Committee Hearing for SB 1145   517-373-3436 or email her HollyHughes@house.mi.gov
Amber Mae

About the author: Amber Mae

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