Michigan fish fight: Bills would squeeze commercial fishers, help anglers

Joel Petersen

Joel Petersen (front), a fourth-generation fisherman, unloads freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish from the deck of the Joy, the trap net tug he operates out of Leland’s Fishtown (Bridge photo by Jim Malewitz)

LANSING — Whose fish are they anyway?

Michigan House lawmakers last week advanced legislation to tighten regulations on Great Lakes commercial fishers, escalating a fight between the long-declining industry and sportfishing groups.

In a series of 7-2 votes on Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation approved House Bills 4567, 4568 and 4569. The legislation would increase commercial fishing license fees from about $200 to $1,400; exponentially boost fines, which haven’t changed since the 1920s, for illegally keeping fish; and tighten reporting requirements on commercial catches and how fishermen tend their nets— to prevent motor-shredding encounters with charter boats. 

The biggest area of contention: The bills also will codify into law a current Department of Natural Resources ban on commercial harvesting of lake trout, walleye, yellow perch and other game fish, reserving them exclusively for anglers.

The Department of Natural Resources backs the legislation, calling it a long-needed update to a century-old commercial fishing code that keeps state officials from closely tracking and prosecuting bad behavior. Sport fishing groups agree and say it’s good policy to prioritize Michigan’s booming recreational fishing industry over the shrinking commercial sector.

“We believe that it’s appropriate that these fisheries are managed as a recreational asset,” said Amy Trotter, executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, which encompases more than 200 hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoors clubs. 

Testifying to lawmakers, she quoted from a study — commissioned by the group — estimating that Michigan’s 1.1 million licensed anglers spur $2.3 billion in commerce each year.

But commercial fishers and proponents call the crackdown unfair, arguing it will reduce Michiganders’ access to freshly caught Great Lakes fish. 

“I’m deeply disappointed that our own state department so heavily favored one group over another on this issue,” Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, said Tuesday, adding: “People want to be able to eat fresh fish on a plate. Some of them are sportsmen, but maybe they don't want to catch it themselves. Maybe they're elderly. Maybe they're like my family, who doesn't have the time anymore to go out and fish for ourselves.”

The votes sent the bills to the House Ways and Means Committee, where they need approval before flowing to the House floor. 

Meanwhile separate legislation more favorable to commercial fishing interests — Senate Bill 389 — would give commercial fishers access to lake trout, walleye and yellow perch. It has yet to draw a committee hearing.

Here’s what Michiganders should know about the fish fight.

Who is proposing the House legislation? 

Reps. Jim Lilly, a Republican from Macatawa; Jack O’Malley, R- Lake Ann, and Pauline Wendzel, R-Watervliet, are sponsoring HB 4567-4569, the legislation that advanced last week. 

Lilly said the legislation has been “years in the making.” While the proposal included some compromises between anglers and commercial fishermen, he added: “I acknowledge there are some areas where [compromise] does not appear to be possible.”

The sponsors of dueling SB 309 include: Sens. Kevin Daley, R-Lapeer;  Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway; Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan; Kenneth Horn, R-Frankenmuth; and Curtis VanderWall, R-Ludington.

That bill would open up lake trout and walleye to commercial fishers, allowing them to catch 10 percent to 20 percent of those fish across much of the state, leaving the rest for anglers.  Saginaw Bay would have special regulations; family fisheries could take 20 percent to 30 percent of catchable walleye each year, and 10 percent to 20 percent of all other fish.

How many state-licensed fishers operate in the Great Lakes, and what may they catch now? 

Michigan licenses 21 mostly family run commercial fishing businesses on the Great Lakes, only 13 of make all of their income from fishing. 

That’s a far-cry from the heyday of Great Lakes fishing, early last century, when thousands of commercial fishermen worked the Great Lakes and tens of thousands more Michiganders drew income from the industry. That was before overfishing, pollution and the invasion of the foreign sea lamprey and alewife nearly wiped out native fish. Michigan is still rehabilitating lake trout and other game fish — through stocking and bag limits, reserving access to anglers. 

In 2017, commercial fishermen harvested about 2.5 million pounds of fish worth about $4 million. Whitefish dominated those sales, which also included small amounts of channel catfish, white bass and goldfish. 

For decades, DNR regulations have barred commercial harvest of popular fish such as lake trout, walleye and yellow perch across the Great Lakes. One exception: Regulators allow yellow perch fishing in Saginaw Bay.

What would the legislation change?

House Bills 4567-4569 would enshrine those rules into law, which commercial fishing groups say would be harder to change if future fish populations thrive. The bills would also nix yellow perch fishing on Saginaw Bay, dealing a blow to the five commercial families licensed to fish the bay’s perch since 1968. 

“We think that's a regulatory taking,” Scott Everett, legislative director for the Michigan Fish Producers Association, told lawmakers last week. “There is no compensation in these bills for the removal of those licenses.”

The legislation would leave commercial fishermen mainly to catch whitefish and less popular species such as bloater chubs, common carp, certain catfish, white perch and white bass.

Who pays for Michigan fisheries management? 

For a large part, anglers do. 

Nearly 40 percent of Michigan sport fishing relies on stocked fish. With the federal government, the DNR spends millions each year stocking 25 million fish in more than 1,000 locations. But anglers generate roughly $30 million per year — through state license fees and federal taxes on gear — to manage those fisheries, according to Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Trout Unlimited's Michigan chapter, an angler group that backs the bills that advanced Tuesday. 

License fees on the few remaining commercial fishing businesses don’t come close to paying the $1 million to $2 million each year to manage that industry, Burroughs testified at a hearing in June. 

Angler groups point to those numbers — and ongoing ecological challenges to Great Lakes sport fish — as a reason why Michigan should go all out to protect sportsfish, including tightening oversight of commercial operations.

Aren’t whitefish numbers declining, too? 

White fish populations are shrinking in some Great Lakes stretches. Those trends coincide with exploding populations of invasive zebra and quagga mussels that experts suspect are sucking up tiny organisms whitefish eat.

That’s partially why commercial fishing businesses want access to other fish. In some locations, they suspect that DNR-stocked fish and scaring away whitefish. Among those critics is Joel Petersen, who fishes off of Lake Michigan’s Manitou islands.

He and others want permission to keep and sell lake trout that inevitably swim into their nets that target whitefish. Under current regulations, commercial fishers must throw back those fish, which often die anyway. 

Sportfishing groups contend that commercial crews should change their practices to avoid catching trout. Additionally, granting commercial access to lake trout would eat into the state’s quotas under its treaties with Michigan tribes — reducing how many fish any other Michigander could catch.

Wait, how does tribal fishing factor in? 

Tribal governments have regulated their own fisheries in Michigan since successfully asserting their treaty rights to fish in the 1970s. 

A 2000 consent decree over how Michigan and five Great Lakes tribes cooperate over fishing rights sets broad quotas on various fish — how much the state and tribes can catch. Only then do the state and tribes allocate fish among various interests, such as anglers and commercial fishers.

In some parts of the Great Lakes, Michigan has already exceeded annual quotas on lake trout.  In Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, for instance, the state Natural Resources Commission in April approved emergency limits on anglers of just one trout per day. 

That’s why sport fishing groups say expanding options to commercial fishers — at least on lake trout — would not work. It would force additional deep cuts in how many fish anglers could take to ensure Michigan honors tribal treaty rights.

But the 2000 consent decree expires in Aug. 2020, and Michigan and tribal regulators are now negotiating a new agreement. That could change the number of fish Michigan’s anglers and commercial fishers wrangle over.

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Comments

Les Grossman
Mon, 10/14/2019 - 9:23am

"In 2017, commercial fishermen harvested about 2.5 million pounds of fish worth about $4 million. Whitefish dominated those sales, which also included small amounts of channel catfish, white bass and goldfish."

Channel catfish being caught commercially in the Great Lakes?
Where can I get fresh caught goldfish. Sounds yummy!

John Doe
Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:47pm

You claim the whitefish and perch numbers are down significantly, so instead of trying to convince us anglers your not going to rape the walleyes also you might as well start looking for another job. You are not welcome here in our waters anymore! Far more families are affected by your actions than the 13 families that have caused this tradegy to begin with. Get out now before you lose it all. Leave!

BayLady
Thu, 10/17/2019 - 6:20pm

Commercial Fishing has been heavily regulated since the 70's & has nothing to do with the ups and downs of the numbers of fish. Quagga mussels are directly linked to the dramatic decline of whitefish taken from Lake Huron and, to a lesser extent, in Lake Michigan. Lake Superior’s numbers remain “pretty stable” because the quagga have not been introduced there in large numbers. Walleye are loving the little perch. Let's not be so naive to think the commercial fishing industry only affects 13 families. For majority which do not own a boat or have the ability to enjoy a fishing trip...leave the Commercial Fishing Industry alone. Please do a bit more research on what actually causes fish numbers to fluctuate before you accuse 13 families of something they have had no part in creating. https://greatlakesecho.org/2017/12/01/saginaw-bay-perch-populations-up-a...

John Doe
Fri, 10/18/2019 - 5:49am

Baylady you are naive or don't know The facts, either one your misinformed. Heavily regulated? Hell NO they are far from regulated period. Unless the DNR is tipped off on violations they only visit the commercial netter 3 times a year. 2 times Announced and 1 time unannounced. That is proof they are NOT HEAVILY REGULATED. Until a third Independent source is at each set,lift and at processing we the people will never know the whole truth. The 13 families said themselves the numbers in whitefish and perch are extremely low, blame it on the mussels all you wanr, We know better. Stop the netting of all Gamefish/Sportfish Immediately!

Justin
Wed, 10/16/2019 - 10:18am

I believe state commercial fishermen should be able to harvest lake trout, perch, and walleye.....just like sport anglers and tribes can do. If they are denied, a lawsuit by the commercial fishers against the state of michigan in violation of equal protection laws should ensue. That could and should end up in the United States Supreme Court....Michigan Fish producers vs State of Michigan....if this current set of restrictive bills pass. I am a charter captain.

John Doe
Wed, 10/16/2019 - 9:54pm

You are a disgrace to all Sportmen & Sportswomen of this state. What is the name of your charter? Dont be shy now, I am sure the masses of the Sportsmen & Sportswomen of this state would love to know you support commercial netters. Good luck filling your next years charters! You want to talk about sueing, watch out what you wish for caise it just might back fire and we of this state might sue every netter out their for fraud, many illegal activities and making death threats will not go unnoticed. Good luck. Hope to see you in Lansing, make sure you introduce yourself!

Les Grossman
Fri, 10/18/2019 - 6:57am

A guy writing under the pseudonym "John Doe" says "don't be shy" to Justin. Funny stuff. "John" your anger isn't helpful in working through this complex issue.

John Doe
Sat, 10/19/2019 - 5:35am

How does a name have anything to do with post? Nothing. Is that your real name Les? Too funny. Only thing funny about the matter at hand.
Anger, you have not seen or heard nothing yet. Once The remarks from Bay ports fisheries facebook page made statement in regards to Any Good Sportsmen is a Dead one and I hope you f'ers drown in your tupperware boats. I lost ALL respect and you want me to stay civil. Get your head out of your *** and get a clue. #StopAllNettingforGamefish/Sportfish

John Doe
Sat, 10/19/2019 - 5:35am

How does a name have anything to do with post? Nothing. Is that your real name Les? Too funny. Only thing funny about the matter at hand.
Anger, you have not seen or heard nothing yet. Once The remarks from Bay ports fisheries facebook page made statement in regards to Any Good Sportsmen is a Dead one and I hope you f'ers drown in your tupperware boats. I lost ALL respect and you want me to stay civil. Get your head out of your *** and get a clue. #StopAllNettingforGamefish/Sportfish

John Doe
Sat, 10/19/2019 - 5:35am

How does a name have anything to do with post? Nothing. Is that your real name Les? Too funny. Only thing funny about the matter at hand.
Anger, you have not seen or heard nothing yet. Once The remarks from Bay ports fisheries facebook page made statement in regards to Any Good Sportsmen is a Dead one and I hope you f'ers drown in your tupperware boats. I lost ALL respect and you want me to stay civil. Get your head out of your *** and get a clue. #StopAllNettingforGamefish/Sportfish

BayLady
Thu, 10/17/2019 - 6:22pm

I agree, Justin. Thank you for your honesty.

John Doe
Fri, 10/18/2019 - 5:54am

Your a disgrace to call a Sportswomen of this state. Clueless Follower...

Justin
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:22am

You are welcome Bay Lady. We all share this resource, and I have no problem with non tribal commercial fishers working with the DNR Fisheries division under a science based quota system that is fair and equitable to all that use the resource. My charter business will not suffer a single bit, I can catch fish easily with or without commercial fishermen nearby. I dont see a single issue with sportsmen, tribes, charters and non tribal commercial fishermen working together to both utilize this great resource and to share it responsibly. It is the selfish few like this clown John Doe posting here, who appears to have a fishing inferiority complex, who are ruining a great opportunity for everyone.

John Doe
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:36pm

Commercial netters are ruining our fisheries! Calling me a clown? Oh okay I will refrain from my thoughts of you and some advise you might want to take yourself. These 3 bills WILL pass and Its like Christmas, we can't wait!!! Btw whats your charter name again? You left it out from your last ignorant post. Waiting.....

Joel
Fri, 10/18/2019 - 8:52pm

I agree 100% with you Justin. Our state licensed commercial fishermen need to be treated fairly and with respect that they desperately deserve. Let the remaining commercial fishermen take lake trout, walleye and perch, they’ve earned it by putting up with the gross mismanagement practices of the Michigan DNR towards their industry since 1962. I think the remaining commercial fishermen should sue the State of Michigan. After all, the Michigan DNR is breaking the law, the Michigan Constitution by favoring one group over another, not treating people fair with just and equal rights.

John Doe
Sat, 10/19/2019 - 5:43am

Joel- you are totally clueless in your whole post. The commercial netters are breaking the law daily. Illegally marked nets,overharvesting, take species not allowed, false reporting to the DNR, fudged #'s turned into the state and IRS. Would you like me to continue on spotlighting the problems with the commercial netters? Equal rights, lmao.... Buy a damn liscence and a pole, good luck catching your own like the rest of us do. #YourClueless

Fair treatment
Sat, 10/19/2019 - 6:42pm

John Doe- Do you have proof of any law-breaking by the commercial netters? You need to stop spreading false information, and stop with the false accusations, seriously, stop. Do you even understand how commercial fishing works? Have you ever worked as a commercial fishermen? Does your livelihood come from commercial fishing? No, you’ve never had to make your livelihood from commercial fishing, making YOU clueless to this whole process. The commercial fishermen work for themselves, and catch and provide whitefish to the physically challenged the elderly or anybody else who can’t or doesn’t want to catch their own fish. We rely on the commercial fishermen for our fresh fish. I want to by fresh trout, walleye and perch from my commercial fishermen, but I can’t because of the unfair treatment to my state licensed commercial fishermen by the Michigan DNR. Perch are my favorite, but I’m unable to catch my own like a lot of folks, but they are way to expensive from the grocery store, and they’re imported from Canada. I want local fish!
Everyone is suppose to be protected under the Constitution of Michigan for fair treatment. The Michigan DNR has not been following the Constitution of Michigan for the commercial netters since 1962. You sir, are allowing this illegal practice to continue by supporting this practice, thus making you, a law-breaker. Just be careful where you point your finger, you might just get one pointed back at you.

John Doe
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:47pm

Yes I and the DNR have proof from the past and present of some Illegal activities from commercial netters. Do I have to post it for you and other clueless yeehawws on this site Hell No whats that going to do? Nothing. It is documented and is part of our arguement to seize all netting for Gamefish/Sportfish of Our Great lakes. Nope never work as a commercial netter. Have you? I do know on any job there are rules and consequences for breaking rules/laws. Commercial netters are not above the law. Buy a pole or buy em from Canada. You eat lobster/crab? If so since you cant go catch em yourself you have to buy them so go buy your walleye and perch at Meijers and enjoy. I am pointing all my fingers at a criminal enterprise and they are welcome to point back stomp their feet and whine like little kids all they want... Time for them to find a new job...

Fair Treatment
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:15pm

John-We are all here commenting and trying to have a civil conversation. You are doing all the wining, and quite frankly, it’s childish, so this will be my only reply to you. Your anger is clouding your ability to think clearly on this topic. There is no room for anyone like you at these negotiations.
You need to understand one thing right now, I’m not saying that the commercial netters are above the law, nobody is, even the Michigan DNR is not above the law. The sooner you realize this, then you might, just might be able to understand this issue that faces the commercial netters.
Anyhow, post your documents that you have of illegal netting, I would like to see them.
I have worked on 4 of the 5 Great Lakes as a commercial fishermen. Never was involved with any illegal netting. It is so tightly regulated, that it’s impossible to do any illegal activity. In areas where there are no quotas we operated under a set number of nets, “gear restrictions” and closed seasons, this is the fail safe to ensure overfishing doesn’t happen. It has worked marvelously. I don’t trust the DNR to do what’s right. They can’t even manage the deer herd. How the heck they gonna manage something they can’t see, fish??? They’ve done things to Our Great Lakes without consulting our neighbors to the north, Canada. It’s their Great Lakes too.
I have fished commercially, for 40 years and all over the world , Michigan, Maine, Florida, Texas, Alaska, Canada, Australia, Spain, Norway and Sweden. King Crab is my favorite when I fished the Bearing Sea. Funnest to catch and eat. When I wasn’t catching seafood to earn a living, I was fishing with a pole either off a dock somewhere or out with some friends on a charter or on their boat SPORT fishing, as the word applies, we fished for fun, SPORT fishing, and it was fun. All the states and country’s I’ve fished in have both a healthy commercial fishery and a healthy sport fishery and they coexist. Michigan by far has the most screwed up regulations I’ve ever had to fish under commercially. The DNR has made it impossible to earn a living from commercial fishing in this State. That’s why its gone from about 1,000 license to 49 in just 57 years. It’s good the remaining commercial fishermen are standing up and finally fighting for what is good. I applaud their efforts and I hope that when the dust settles from all of this that Michigan will have a healthy commercial fishery along with a healthy sport fishery. There is room for all. I am no longer able to fish ether commercially or sport fish from a disability that I won’t get into. I’d love to do both, but can’t. But I still eat seafood. People like myself rely on commercial fishing for our seafood. So before you go damming the commercial fishermen, please remember that there are people out there that need and want commercial fishing to continue. I want it to continue. I’ve bought fish from Meijer, but by the time they get it it’s already a week to ten days old. Nothing better than fresh fish caught that day, you know that.
I’d rather go to my local commercial fishery and buy it from them. I’d love to get fresh lake trout, but the commercial guy can’t keep any, not even for their own supper, and they pay a higher license fee than sport fishermen, and the fee is going to increase more. That ain’t right.
I have a voice and it speaks loudly, clearly and with due diligence. Don’t you ever tell me what to do, ever.
You also said “Our Great Lakes”, well they’re mine too, along with the men and women who risk it all to go out and bring whitefish in for all of us to enjoy. You’re exactly right, they are, Our Great Lakes.
I also wish that you apologize to myself and the other folks who have posted on this site trying to engage in meaningful conversation. You John Doe, are rude.
And remember, when you point a finger at someone, there’s always 3 pointing back. Have a great day.

John Doe
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 8:26am

No whining here, seems like that comment was meant for yourself and the commercial netters. My comments are far from childish. Its more like Pissed off and fed up with the bullsnot lies. Hope that was your last reply! The Sportsmen & Sportswomen need more like me to stand up and voice, We are done with commercial netting. You comment on how they are so tightly regulated is bullsnot wrong and a bold face lie. They get 3 visits by DNR, 2 are announced and 1 is unannounced. Lpts of free time unaccounted for. You say overharvesting doesn't happen?? Where the hell is the whitefish & perch then? Netters even said they are at a all time low. You don't trust the DNR, we don't trust you! You fished commercially for 40 yrs, bet that was fun while it lasted. DNR is not responsible for overharvesting. When the dudmst does settles the Sportsmen will win! You haveca voice as I do I, hear me yet? Never appologize to any commercial netter. I am far from rude, more like a straight shooter and people like you are just followers. Point all the fingers you want, I am a big boy and can take anything you dish. See you in Lansing so the Sportsmen & Sportswomen ofvthis state can finally start to get fair treatment.....We deserve. You have a Great day too sir

John Doe
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 9:18am

No whining here, you must be referring to the commercial netters posts or followers. Childish?? More like Pissed off. You say that was your last reply, Good. The Sportsmen & Sportswomen need more like me to stand up and voice that we are done with commercial netters. You commented that they are so tightly regulated is bullsnot, they get 3 visits a year. 2 are Announced and 1 is unannounced. A lot of free time unaccounted and unsupervised. You say overfishing doesn't happen?? Where the hell all thecwhitefish and perch go? Netters even said they are at a all time low. You don't trust the DNR, we don't trust you! You fished commercially for 40 yrs (to long) bet that was fun whilecit lasted. DNR is not responsible for commercial overharvesting. When the dust settles the Sportsmen Will WIN! You have a voice, as do I. Hear me yet? I will never appologize to any commercial netter. Far from rude, straight shooter and people like yourself can't handle it and are just followers. Point all the fingers at me you want buddy, won't change a damn thing. See ya in Lansing so the Sportsmen & Sportswomen of this state can finally start to get "Fair Treatment" ......Have a Great day to you also...

Joel
Sun, 10/20/2019 - 8:47pm

John Doe-The commercial netters are on strict quotas and strict gear restrictions. They battle all kinds of weather and invasive species. Why do they have to battle for their jobs against high ranking State Representatives MUCC and the Michigan DNR?? The BIG THREE, are working together on this to destroy the few remaining commercial fishing enterprises, this is a travesty of tremendous proportions. I read an article a couple years back the DNR is on record saying that the commercial fishery is streamlined and well regulated enough that they no longer drive fish populations, invasive species do. I can’t find the article right now, but I’ll keep looking.
The conservation officers only have to watch 13 commercial fishing enterprises, that’s an easy number to track, but how can they track 1.1 million sport fishermen, you see how easy it is to hide fish from the state for the sport fishermen.
And oh yeah, I already have a fishing license for this state and several other states and about 100 poles. So John Doe, don’t tell me what to do, cause you don’t know me.
I support our commercial fishermen. They are honest hard working men and women who are just trying to make a living. I’ve never had any luck pole fishing for whitefish, it’s my favorite fish, so I buy it from my local commercial fishery. I only hope that someday that they will be allowed to catch and retain lake trout, walleye, and perch. If I could buy it from the commercial fishermen, I’d sell all my poles but one, boat, truck. Save me a pile of money in the long run, don’t have to buy gas anymore. Come to think of it, my boat burns about 60 gallons of gas per trip for sometimes one fish. That’s not very environmentally friendly. Where as a commercial fishermen might burn 60 gallons and return with 500 fish, makes all the sense in the world when we think about our environmentally sensitive world. The Bills introduced by Rep Lilly Rep O’mally and Rep Wendzel are awful Bills for this state. I’ve seen some bad Bills before, but these take the cake. They are short sighted and not representative of the majority of Michigan’s citizens.
Our commercial fishermen are awesome people to be around, they rock!

Mac
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 7:45am

Joel-I couldn’t agree more with you.
Our 13 remaining state licensed commercial fishing enterprises and the men and women who own them and work there, are getting screwed. This 3 bill package is one sided. I thought these 3 bills were suppose to be commercial fishing legislation, there ain’t one good thing in these bills for the commercial guy, not one thing. If the Michigan DNR Commercial Fish Division had been working with our commercial fishermen on a rewrite, the Commercial Fish Division sure didn’t listen to them. Oh they listened alright, listened to MUCC, that ain’t nothing but a group of ingrates who will stop at nothing, even if it includes lying. And they are on record of lying to committee during the last hearing about these horrible bills before us. Is this who should be the muppet master??? Let’s face the facts here and the cold hard truth, the MUCC is in the pocket of the DNR, MUCC is pulling the strings on this laughable piece of legislation. If this is ever passed into law, Michigan is once again going to be the laughing stock of the country because our own Michigan DNR can’t grow a backbone do what’s right, give our state licensed commercial fishermen a fair opportunity. There is a division within the DNR that manages the commercial fishery, it’s called the Commercial Fish Division. It’s not called the Sport Fish Division, so how come the CFD is not supportive of our last 13 commercial fish enterprises?? Answer-they don’t care about commercial fishing. That is abuse of power and all who work within the CFD should be prosecuted for it.
I’ve been watching and reading as this progresses, and it makes me sick to think our own government is out to put these folks out of business. So much for democracy for these folks. Let our commercial fishermen do their job without all this hinderance! Let them fish! CFD should, and I say should manage the commercial fishery’s based on science, not some 3 bill political package of hogwash. Rep. Lilly, Rep. O’Malley and Rep. Wenzdel should be ashamed of themselves for introducing such a lopsided piece of legislation. There’s nothing fair about the legislation, it’s bad for the commercial fishermen and bad for Michigan. It’s even bad for the sport fishermen, the commercial guys provide an astounding amount of free research to the DNR by what they see in their nets. How many fish, what species, what water depth, where in the lakes, this is vital to the management of all the fisheries, sport fishing included. I think the commercial guys need to send the Michigan DNR a hourly bill for all the research they do. Why not, the information that they provide helps to manage the so called 2.3 billion dollar sport fishery, the commercial guy ought to be compensated for it. 2.3 billion is the entire state, not just the Great Lakes. The commercial guys only work in the Great Lakes, I’ll let you all think about that fact that somehow keeps getting omitted from the facts.
I’m going to John Cross Fisheries today to purchase myself some smoked whitefish. Fish caught by our fabulous commercial fishermen. They really are good people. give them a break and let them fish!
Oh yeah, John Doe-it would be wise for you keep your mouth closed, there’s already enough air pollution.

John Doe
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 4:19pm

Mac, you tried to write a decent reply just left out alot of facts! The commercial netters did their own doings by total disregard for the well being of Our resources We the Sportsmen paid for. Illegal activity catches up and now want to cry wolf. Among deaf ears with no concern on commercial netting for Gsmefish/Sportfish on Great lakes any more. Your reply shows you lack alot of facts and you are very misled. Having a debate with you does ZERO for either of us so as you said to me. You would be better off keeping your mouth shut permanently, on this topic anyway.
#Sportsmen WillWin

John Doe
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:57pm

As I said and your last post confirms it. Your clueless or ignorant. They are not heavily regulated or have quotas that are enforced. For one there is no quota or limit on perch so that One Fact you have no clue about shows you are clueless on what you think they do. You go by hear say and are a follower. How much you selling your truck n boat since you would rather buy fish caught from Illegal commercial netters? You are not even worthy of taking anymore of my time. Hope to see you and the rest of your followers in Lansing when these 3 bills pass and see the reaction on their faces will be PRICELESS!!

John Doe
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 5:10pm

Is this Joel Thee "Joel Petersen"?? If so I will wait for confirmation before I reply. Look forward to it if this is the Real "Joel Petersen"!

John Doe
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:29pm

Joel- you are totally clueless in your whole post. The commercial netters are breaking the law daily. Illegally marked nets,overharvesting, take species not allowed, false reporting to the DNR, fudged #'s turned into the state and IRS. Would you like me to continue on spotlighting the problems with the commercial netters? Equal rights, lmao.... Buy a damn liscence and a pole, good luck catching your own like the rest of us do. #YourClueless

Joel
Fri, 10/18/2019 - 11:25pm

Our remaining commercial fishermen need to sue the State of Michigan. The Michigan DNR is point blank breaking the law of the land, the Michigan Constitution, by favoring one group over another (sport fishing over commercial fishing) and not providing just and fair rights. A portion of our State Representatives are continuing to allow this to happen and are supporting this law breaking practices. What’s so wrong with allowing our few remaining commercial fishermen the opportunity to provide Lake Trout, Walleye and Perch along with Whitefish, after all, I like to eat fish and would love to be able to eat locally caught Lake Trout, Walleye and perch instead of it coming from Canada. Let’s be fair. Let’s use our brains on this subject and think fairly.