From the Helm . . .
COVID-19 and the Tribal Consent Decree were the big stories this year. 2020 is coming to a close; hopefully by next spring when we begin the 2021 fishing season the Covid crises will be mostly behind us, and we will see a bit of a return to normal. Many of us have had friends that have been affected. The Tribal Decree remains a very big and difficult problem. It is proving to be very complicated and difficult. The Covid issue has made the negotiations even more complicated and costly since it is not possible for the negotiators to meet in person. Negotiations are very frustrating at times. Meeting on a Zoom call with 30 to 50 people with different opinions on how to divide a shared re-source is about as complicated as it gets. After a year of negotiations, accomplishments have been hard to come by. Hopefully, we may be able to move forward more quickly in 2021.
Some possible changes may be hard for us all to have to accept when the new agreement is finally reached. We now know that Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are only producing only one-third of the bio-mass the lakes were producing 20 years ago. The invasives are robbing the lakes of the nutrients and plankton that were present at that time. Also, the whitefish population has been crashing in both lakes. Because of all of the above and more, our negotiations funds are being stretched to the max. The longer it goes on, and the harder it is to reach an agreement, the more difficult it becomes to cover the cost of belonging to the coalition. Please consider making a contribution to the MCBA Tribal Negotiation Fund, you can find a link on the Members Area website.
The Commercial Fishing bills we had hoped to pass have been torn apart by Senator McBroom and the Commercial Fishing industry. Lake trout, Walleye, and Perch are their targets. Senator McBroom has written 143 amendments to these bills. There isn’t one amendment that is friendly to the sportfishing community even though sport fishermen pay the bills with our licenses, taxes, and fees. They would have us provide a ‘sort of corporate welfare’ to an industry that doesn’t put any money or fish into the system. For decades, sportfish have rightfully been protected from commercial harvest. We cannot allow that to change now. Sadly, many people who fish the lakes don’t know these issues are threatening their fishery. What would happen if our fishery would be over-harvested by a commercial fisherman? Would our charter businesses be destroyed? These are all difficult issues, and things seem kind of gloomy just now, but here’s the good news: every day there is a group of dedicated people who are representing you, and working as hard as possible to protect the fishery we all so value. Seven days a week, Saturday and Sundays included, and in every possible way, commonly including lots and lots of Zoom meetings.
Please remember to renew your membership so you will be compliant in 2021. You can renew online. Membership expires December 31st.
Hopefully, we work our way through this, with a good outcome for all.
Happy Holidays, and please be safe
Captain Bill Winowiecki President
Michigan Charter Boat Association