2020 Treaty Negotiation Update – Judge rules to extend decree, denies expanding tribal fishing zones
• On July 24, 2020, the Court accepted the proposal of the State of Michigan, four Tribes, and the United States to extend the 2000 Consent Decree past its August 8th expiration until December 31, 2020. The Court was “extremely concerned” with allowing the 2000 Consent Decree to expire and leaving no regulation in place regarding the co-management of the shared resource.
• The Court rejected a request by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to modify the 2000 Consent Decree by removing exclusive zones while the parties work towards a negotiated agreement. Removing of the zones would have opened the northern half of Lakes Michigan and Huron to tribal fishing by all tribes. Currently, each tribes has reserved rights in particular parts of the Lakes that have served the Tribes and State well.
• The Court also directed former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Cavanaugh, who is serving as a Mediator in the negotiations, to file a report with the Court on the progress in negotiations no later than August 31.
• The Court indicated that if the parties need an additional extension of time, any requests must be filed no later than December 10, 2020.
“We are very pleased that the Court has extended the Decree as is and has allowed Tribal and State licensed fishermen and women to continue under the rules that have applied for the last 20 years,” said Tony Radjenovich, President of the Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources. “We look forward to the continuing negotiations and toward making some real progress in the coming months.” The CPMR is an umbrella organization representing Sportfishing and natural resource interests in the negotiations and in court. The MUCC is a critical member of the Coalition and has been involved in these issues since the 1970s.