From the Helm . . .
Taking over the helm from Capt. Terry R. Walsh, we will be moving on with many of the programs he implemented over the last six years. One of the most important things during his time as President, Capt. Walsh, along with our Drug Administrator, Capt. Larry Lienczewski, worked many long hours to update and reinstate our drug-reporting program. Important changes were made to meet reporting requirements of the U. S. Coast Guard Drug Enforcement Program. Capt. Walsh needs a big round of applause from our membership for being at the helm and steering us through the rough waters of bringing our drug program in line with federal standards. We now have one of the best drug programs available to captains anywhere in the U. S. A., according to the U. S. Coast Guard enforcement people. No small feat by Capts. Walsh and Lienczewski.
At the Annual Membership Meeting in Traverse City, two new board members came on board. Our new Director for the Upper Peninsula is Capt. Brian Helminen of Sand Point Charters, LLC in Calumet, Michigan. He replaces former U. P. Director Capt. James Shutt, who held that position for a number of years. Capt. Henry Walters of Sportsmen’s Charters from Fair Haven, Michigan is our new MCBA Director for Lake St. Claire and Lake Erie. Capt. Walters takes over the helm from Capt Bruce Curtis, who is retiring and moving from the state. I want to extend a big “Welcome Aboard!” to Capt. Helminen and Capt. Walters with their new appointments as MCBA Regional Representatives to the MCBA Board of Directors. I also want to thank Capt. Curtis and Capt. Shutt for their many years of dedication and service to MCBA Your leadership has been greatly appreciated.
On the radar screen in 2016, MCBA will be watching a number of issues very closely. In the lime light right now is Aquaculture/Fish Farming by private companies on the Great Lakes. On November 19, 2015 I attended a public forum on this subject in Gaylord, Michigan and voiced our organization’s concerns and opposition to any form of fish farming in the Great Lakes. The threat of possibly introducing diseases to our native stocks of wild fish, the very real threat that pen raised fish will escape and likely pass their inferior DNA to our native fish through cross breeding, the tons of fish poop and uneaten food that will settle on the bottom of the lakes creating tremendous amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen (think Lake Erie algae blooms) are just some of the problems associated with commercial fish farming. Also, why would we want domestic raised, fish-farm trout and salmon eggs from who knows where introduced in our Great Lakes waters when the MDNR fisheries division has been meticulous with our salmon and trout egg taking over the last 50 years or so? All of that would be thrown away if private business were allowed to start commercial fish farming. One last note on this: Michigan Farm Bureau is in full support of fish farming in the Great Lakes. They are the number two, powerful state lobby, and this is worrisome to me.
There are a number of other major issues we will be focusing on in the months ahead. One of these is Enbridge’s 60-year-old oil pipeline that runs along 90 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline in the Upper Peninsula and across the Straits of Mackinaw. We have voiced our concerns to state government regarding a possible catastrophic oil spill and have gone on record demanding the pipeline be shut down permanently as soon as possible.
Another concern is the poor Chinook salmon fishery this last year in Lake Michigan and what the future might hold for the charter fishing industry. Lake trout are fast becoming the target fish for charter operators from Manistee north on Lake Michigan. We’ll be watching closely for any creel changes on lake trout over the next year or so.
Also looming on the horizon is the 2020 Consent Decree between the State, U. S. Government, and the five Tribes here in Michigan. Currently, we have joined with other sport fishing groups now known as the Coalition to Protect Michigan’s Natural Resources so we will have a voice in the upcoming state negotiations and affairs regarding the 2020 Consent Decree.
As I finish this article for the winter issue of the Cannonball, it is early December, the weather is beautiful up here in Northwest Michigan, and it’s hard to think of Christmas with no snow and 50 degree weather. But I do want to wish all of our captains, retired captains, port captains, first mates, and all their families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May all your coolers be filled with fish!
Capt. Eric Andersen President