The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing legislation to allow commercial fishing of walleye and lake trout.
Some folks in Michigan are against the idea.
In fact, Saturday, May 6, anglers plan to protest in Bay City.
“My organization is very concerned about the commercial harvest of walleye and lake trout,” says Dan Eichinger, the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Club. “Right now, when a commercial fisherman has walleye or lake trout, they are required to return those species to the water. One of the things this proposed bill would do is allow those folks to keep those fish and take them to market.”
He says the legislation would, in essence, create a commercial market for a sport fishery. The DNR says the species has rebounded after a lengthy commercial fishing prohibition.
The protest is organized by the Saginaw Bay Walleye Fishery Preservation group. Several guest speakers will make presentations at the end of the march, including Eichinger.
The DNR says the legislation probably won’t be up for vote until December 2018. In fact, the DNR has been working to rewrite the entire commercial fishery code.
“Anglers are going to oppose it based on the social reasons that they don’t think anyone else should have access to these fish,” says DNR fisheries biologist Tom Goniea. “They are going to make their opinions known, and that’s fine. That’s how the political process works.”
Eichinger says he isn’t protesting, only speaking to make the public aware. However, he is disappointed because the DNR has been working with commercial fishermen for six years on this, cutting out recreational anglers.
Goniea says he hopes the protest has a good turnout to make their voices heard.