2017 Spring President Report

From the Helm . . .

February 16, Vice President Captain Rich Haslett and I attended a meeting at Jays Sporting Goods in Clare, MI. We were invited to attend by MDNR fisheries people along with other sport fishing group officials.

All groups attending were there to be made aware of a new set of statues being proposed for commercial fishermen and retail fish markets. Both MDNR fisheries chief Jim Dexter and MDNR senior fisheries biologist, commercial harvest, Tom Goniea presented the new proposed Commercial Fishing law statue updates and changes to existing statues.

Listed here are some of the specific goals of the proposed legislation.
1. Define commercial terms and or definitions.
2. Update archaic terms and or definitions. Much of this law was written in 1929 and verbiage is unusable in today’s legal system.
3. Update and remove obsolete regulations.
4. A big one for us as sport anglers and charter operators…modernize catch reporting with commercial harvest and retail sales. This will provide better info on how much fish is actually being harvested by commercial fishers.
5. Modernize and increase fees, fines and penalties. As of right now fines are so small, the court system throws some of these cases out.
6. Add for restitution in poaching cases.

Several things concerns us as charter fishing operators. The lake trout sport trolling license with be eliminated. This license was originally used for fishermen catching and selling lake trout and dates back to 1929. Over the years there has been much confusion over this license. Some COs have enforced the use of this license; others have not required charter operators to have the license. Second item that is of some concern to our captains on Lake Huron, especially Saginaw Bay, is the by catch of walleye in the Saginaw Bay region. The newly proposed statue allows for the by catch of walleye and lake trout up to a certain amount. The amount we heard at the February meeting was approximately 100lbs or less in their creel catch each time nets are pulled. This is a proposed weight limit of by catch walleye and lake trout.
Captains who have concerns over this new commercial legislation need to attend our April board meeting at the Doherty Hotel in Clare, MI or send their concerns and opinions to us via email. MCBA website has all officers’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses listed in the member’s area. We welcome your feedback to us. By searching the MDNR website, commercial fishing section, there is info regarding the new proposed legislation. We look to see these upgraded statues to become law sometime in late 2018.
After another mild winter many of us are in hopes of a good hatch of alewives this spring. We could sure use it for our king salmon fishery.
In closing my spring President’s report, I hope everyone will have a great season this year. Most of our targeted fish catches last year were very good to excellent on our Great Lakes. We just need our king fishery to improve. Stay safe and have a great summer.

Kind regards,
Eric Andersen – President MCBA