MICHIGAN (WJMN) – Commercial fishing laws may be changing soon in Michigan. HB4567, HB4568 and HB4569 have passed approval in the House of Representatives and are now waiting for approval by the Senate.
The bills are amendments to sections in the “natural resources and environmental protection act.” Most of the provisions in each bill are similar or the same to the previous laws. There are some changes, however, and some hoped-for changes that have not yet been made.
The cost of licenses and fines are increasing. The bills also specify what the license costs will be as they change through the next few years. Dennis VanLandschoot is the CEO of VanLandschoot and Sons Fishery in Munising. He says that while they agree with many of the provisions, there are things they want to be added to the bills.
“We would like to have a small quota of lake trout as an adjustment to the bill and to fish other fish that would make our businesses viable,” said VanLandschoot. “The existing model is with small quotas and declining whitefish number there’s just really no way that these thirteen commercial fishermen that are left can survive.”
The types of fish that commercial fisheries are allowed to catch are outlined in HB4568. Commercial fisheries are not allowed to catch game fish, which are defined in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, set forth in 1994. Amy Trotter, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs says it’s important to protect these game fish for recreational anglers.
“Currently lake trout and walleye are not allowed for commercial harvest,” said Trotter. “So it’s really important for us that these bills would continue to not allow that as a commercial harvest and protect those game fish because it is sport fishing anglers that have paid to restore and manage those populations over time.”
Some of the other changes that Trotter thinks are important are the fees for licenses and fines. She says the laws have not been updated since the 1960s and it was time to modernize the commercial fishing industry in Michigan.
VanLandschoot says that the Michigan Fish Producers Association agrees with several of the provisions including changing the markers on their nets, checking them more frequently and paying higher fees. VanLandschoot says visitors to locations should be able to purchase fish from the great lakes and that they supply whitefish from Mackinaw Island up to Copper Harbor.
“We strongly believe that with the product that we have and produced by Michigan folks, Michigan businesses in Michigan waters, if we go out of business that the industry will be turned over to Canada,” said VanLandschoot.
Trotter says the commercial fisheries do a great job harvesting and supplying businesses with whitefish and that the bills are a way to ensure sustainable fishing for sport and commercial purposes for years to come.
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