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Health, Science and Environment

Anglers warn proposal could hurt Walleye populations
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

A new proposal from the Michigan Department of Resources has gotten pushback from recreational fishers who say it could endanger walleye populations in the Great Lakes.

The proposal makes broad changes to Michigan commercial fishing licences updating things from fees and fines to regulations.

The part of the proposal getting pushback is a provision to allow commercial fishers to take walleye out of the Great Lakes.

John Revard is with the Saginaw Bay Walleye Fishery Preservation. He said the provision allows commercial fishers to keep and sell by-catch walleye that get caught in commercial fisher nets.

“That’s where our main focus was. We do not want commercial fishers keeping any walleye.”

Walleye were restocked in the Great Lakes in the 80s and 90s using revenue from recreational fishing licenses. Recreational fishers argue this should keep access to the walleye fishery exclusive to them. 

Tom Goniea is with the DNR. He said the state can’t restrict commercial access to walleye.

“To claim that the population of walleye out there is solely the result of stocking is starting to become a bit of a misnomer because most of the walleye out there are naturally reproduced and belong to all of the citizens of the state of Michigan.”

Goniea said Walleye populations are stable now in the Great Lakes. He said the proposal would allow for sustainable fishing The commercial fishing industry would take at most -  15% of what recreational fishers take annually.

The DNR is an underwriter for CMU Public Radio.