2022 Winter Presidents Report

Greetings from northwestern Michigan. In my region the snow came early and deep this year. Nearly two feet just at the beginning of the deer hunting season. Snow that deep makes deer hunting pretty hard. Deer hunting is our favorite late fall activity after closing the charter season.

Fortunately the snow and bad weather did not interfere with our 50th Anniversary Fall Conference which was held on the weekend of October 15 in Lansing.
There were many positive comments from those who attended. It was pretty much agreed that the MCBA 50th Anniversary celebration was a great success. The topics were timely and the guest speakers were very informative, We all enjoyed the good food, and the very well attend hospitality events. One of the great benefits of our weekend conference is the opportunity it provides for catching up with old friends and captains from all areas of our great state.

In addition to the informative program sessions, there were some outstanding events at our Saturday evening program.
Our 50th Anniversary Dinner Celebration began with a Champagne Toast to our 50 years of service to Michigan Captains. A booklet, with the history of the 50 years of the association, authored by past president Captain Joe Wolff, was placed at every table setting. Special memorial words were spoken for the loss of Captain Wolff, who passed away suddenly, shortly after completing the 50 years if the association history project.
In addition to speaking to the group and answering questions, Senator Jon Bumstead awarded the Michigan Charter Boat Association a special 50th Anniversary proclamation passed by the legislature.

Our guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Bill Taylor; Dr. Taylor is a Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries Systems at MSU. Dr. Taylor has spent more than 40 years of work on the Great Lakes fisheries ecology. His presentation was extremely informative and well received.
Following his presentation, Dr. Taylor was awarded the MCBA Pistis Award, which is given annually to an individual or organization that has contributed significantly to the goals of our Association.

The annual MCBA award was given to retired Captain Denny Blue. Capt. Blue chartered both in Michigan and Florida. He is the author of three books related to his life as a charter captain, and as an executive of the Ford Motor Co. Capt. Denny Blue won many records for fish caught in Florida and other countries. Capt. Denny is a much loved and respected retired member of the MCBA.

A special award was given to Linda Haslett for her many of service to the Association In addition to her many years of working at the trade shows on behalf of the Association, Linda was the primary creator, editor, and distributer of the Associations fund-raising cookbook. Our scholarship funds have benefited greatly from her outstanding and dedicated work.
Congratulations to Scott Anderson of Northwest Charters of Traverse City on winning the $5000 trip package. His name was drawn following dinner from a list of all the Captain members present.

As President of the Association, I would like to extend a special thanks to all the planners and participants. It was a great meeting, and a celebration worth remembering.
Moving on to the ongoing news and business of our Association.

The good news is that the Lake Michigan west coast is scheduled to receive an increase of up to 1 million King smolts. We are all excited about this. The salmon fishing has slowly been getting better the past few years. This should continue the trend.
The “Bad News” and continuing old business is on the subject of the Tribal Decree.
The Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources (the CPMR) has filed a motion to intervene in the Federal Court lawsuit and negotiations that have been going on for over three years. The MCBA is member of the Coalition along with the MUCC, the Steelheaders and several other organizations. Our motion was denied by Judge Paul Maloney, though he did rule that the Coalition will have a chance to object to any settlement that the other parties may agree to.
The Coalition has appealed the Judge’s decision to the Federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The parties have now come to an agreement on a proposed new decree and there will be at least a couple of hearings before Judge Maloney in the next couple of weeks. The coalition strongly disagrees with several issues in the proposed decree, most importantly as related to expanded gill netting. Judge Maloney has extended the old decree indefinitely until all parties can come to a settlement.
In addition to all of this, the Sault Ste. Marie tribe has filed a motion to withdraw from the negotiations, abandoning the agreements that have in place since 1985, and to “self-regulate”. That could mean that they will fish whenever they want, with whatever gear they want, and wherever they want in all treaty covered waters. In my view this presents the greatest risk to the sport fishery since 1985. A status conference has been scheduled for December 16th where there will be updates to determine where the parties stand.
This is very serious if you own and operate a charter fishing business in the Great Lakes.

I really don’t know where this is headed. As I’ve stated before, the members of this organization, many other organizations, and even members of the public need to get fired up. Unfortunately, it’s hard to fire people up when many of the facts are concealed because of a confidentiality agreement. The motion by the Sault tribe is a preview of things that could happen! This risk really shows the importance of the funding we will continue to need in order to be represented by our legal team.

If we are unable to legally quash this challenge to the whole consent decree, I am afraid that things may go back to what it was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. There are only a few of us left who remember all the damage to the fishery and the social unrest that occurred during those years

Me? I am truly tired of writing about this every quarterly newsletter. It has to be understood that we are exploring every avenue, with the goal of protecting the fishery, and pushing forward to come to a conclusion we can all live with. This has been really hard while the State and Tribes are using the court to fight our participation in the negotiations. We have to stay with it or the fishery will fail. As of December 12, the proposed Consent Decree was made public, and is available for all to see. It is posted on the MCBA website.

Please be safe during your Holiday Season.

Captain Bill Winowiecki
President
Michigan Charter Boat Association