Groups Vying for Share of Catch as Numbers of Lake Superior Trout Go Down

Rainbow_trout_fishThe Lake Superior Trout numbers are on the decline which is now being felt by all the groups that catch fish from this lake. There are as many as three different groups trying to get a share of the catch. The state and two tribes take 50% each of the harvest of the trout from Lake Superior as per the 10-year Lake Superior fishing agreement. The state half is further subdivided into commercial fishermen and sport anglers who want to catch trout for sport. The two tribes that are harvesting trout from Lake Superior are Red Cliff and Bad River.

With the numbers of Lake Superior Trout going down, the sport anglers are the ones that are suffering the most. Dave Sorenson, the president of the North Wisconsin Road and Gun Club says that the commercial fishermen are taking all the trout and the sport anglers are left with almost none. According to him, they were taking 14,000 fish on average and even that number has gone down recently. The commercial fishermen on the other hand say that they have to bear the losses when the numbers of trout go down in the lake.

Craig Hoopman, a commercial fisherman from Bayfield says that the state has tied trout fishing along with whitefish fishing which hampers commercial fishermen in catching whitefish. The reason for this is that the state limits the amount of gill nets used for catching whitefish when it reduces the number of tag for trout fishing. Even the tribal biologist for the Red Cliff tribe, Chad Abel expressed concerns about this policy of the government saying that discussion have been made on the issue of managing fishery without linking whitefish to lake trout harvest but they have not yet yielded any results.    

Wisconsin Tribes and Department of Natural Resources Extend Agreement of Fishing in Lake Superior

dnrThe Department of Natural Resources at Wisconsin has formally announced the extension of the agreement of allowing fishing in Lake Superior with two tribes from Northern Wisconsin namely Bad River and Red Cliff. The development has come after the 10-year agreement expired in November. The parties decided to extend the agreement by one year for the time being with negotiations continuing between the parties for a new agreement that would be long-term.

According to the Department of Natural Resources supervisor for Lake Superior fisheries, Terry Margenau, it was important for both the parties to actually extend the old agreement and stay on table to negotiate the specifics of a new long-term agreement.

Biologist from the Wisconsin tribe Red Cliff, Chad Abel, chipped in with his opinion as well on the agreement and said that a few changes were negotiated from the previous agreement in this short-term agreement. He pointed out that the changes were made in the locations for commercial fishing. He also said that negotiations were ongoing about the restrictions placed by DNR on certain areas of the Lake Superior within Wisconsin. He said that they have requested to inspect all of the restricted regions along with the personnel with DNR to look at the stated justification for the restriction and to analyze whether there is a chance that the restriction can now be uplifted. The understandings from these inspections would make the task of drafting a new long-term agreement easier.

Chad Abel also said that all unhappy groups are welcome to join the negotiation table in response to the claims made by commercial and sport fishermen who were complaining that their inputs were not taken while deciding this agreement. However, he did say that final decision power on this matter (whether to allow commercial fishermen and sport fishermen group to join the negotiation or not) lies with the state and that the state may not want them on the table so as to quicken the entire process and to get to a final long-term agreement sooner rather than later.

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