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Here it is from the Joint Committee on Finance. To see it in it’s entirety click here. The gist of it is that the DNR doesn’t have to have the private commercial fleet pay it’s own was but simply has to recover a portion of the cost of it. Here is the good part, a short fall of over $300,000 for just 2003-04 only.

Natural Resources -- Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation (Paper #517) Page 3

6. There are currently 68 resident and one nonresident commercial fishers on Lake Michigan, and 10 resident commercial fishers on Lake Superior. The Wisconsin commercial fishery is considered "closed" -- that is, no new licenses are authorized. For 2003-04, revenues totaling $203,900 were generated by the sale of commercial fishing licenses to the fish and wildlife account of the conservation fund. Under the bill, fee revenues would be expected to increase to almost $300,000 by 2006-07.

7. The Department incurs a variety of costs in overseeing the Great Lakes commercial fishing program. As previously mentioned, fisheries staff monitor fish populations, reproduction, habitat and fish health, recommend harvest goals, and work with commercial fishermen monitoring catch levels on the Great Lakes. For fiscal year 2003-04, fisheries management incurred staff costs estimated at $275,000 for efforts relating to the commercial fisheries program. In addition, DNR law enforcement patrol time related to commercial fishing contacts, wholesale fish dealer enforcement, and sport troller enforcement required 4,471 law enforcement hours during fiscal year 2003-04. When the cost of warden salaries, fringe benefits, equipment, and operations costs are all included, the cost of enforcing laws and regulations related to commercial fishing approached $250,000 last year. Therefore, DNR spent approximately $525,000 in 2003-04 related to the Great Lakes commercial fishing program. In addition, DNR made payments to former commercial fishing license holders totaling $140,200 as part of a Lake Superior fishing license retirement program initiated in 1996 to reduce fishing pressure on the Great Lakes. (Fiscal year 2005-06 will be the final payment under the agreements.)

That's $525,00 + $140,200 - $203,900, and I get a shortfall of $461,000 for one year, to be made up by ??? And how long as this subsidizing been going on, from the DNR

Problem 1 Commercial fees are inadequate to support commercial management. Revenues from commercial license fees and general taxes do not fully cover current expenditures for management of commercial fisheries in Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes. Approximately one-third ($61,000) of expenditures for commercial fishing management during the 1991-92 fiscal year were derived from sport license fees. This use of sport license revenues may not be appropriate.

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So what does that tell you, over 15 years of subsidies? Here's what the commercial fishing database has for the Lake Michigan fishers only, take a look at the number 1 earning fisher for that year, and the commercial fleet isn't paying it's own way because?

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As to the $1.4 million dollar buyout of 11 commercial Lake Trout fishers, here are some interesting numbers from the Lake Superior commercial fishing database, care of the USGS.
As you can see below, in ten years of fishing for Lake Trout (col. 3), the actual value of those fish was nowhere near the value that they were paid, by sportsmen of this state, not to fish. (col. 4). In fact two commercial fishers didn’t even fish for Lake Trout for years previous to the buyout. The lucky fishers were paid anywhere from 4 times to 17 times the actual value of all the Lake Trout they ever took in 10 years of fishing.

You can also see that fishers were bought out regardless of how much income they had made in the past by fishing for all commercial species. (col. 2). We paid a guy that made $800,000 and we paid a guy that made only $68,116. In 13 years of active fishing for multiple species, he made $68,116, and then the DNR swoops down and give him over $127,000 to stop taking Lake Trout that he really didn’t catch anyway.
What were the results, of saving these few lake trout? Fishermen spent on average 25% less time fishing on Lake Superior, or maybe 25% fewer fishermen stopped fishing Lake Superior.

Please note that the data from the USGS was incomplete, the value for many fish species was blank for 1995, so that year was not included in the total value, 1995 lake trout value was figured by poundage caught multiplied by previous years rate.