The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) allows the public to submit resolutions to suggest changes to current fishing and hunting rules and regulations. These then go to the WDNR or through the WDNR to the Legislature when applicable.
The WDNR has shown a willingness to misrepresent the facts and prevent resolutions from advancing, if those resolutions seek to limit or deny public resources to commercial fishers. Here are some examples:
2008 – Question 58, permanently close commercial yellow perch fishing on Lake Michigan (not Green Bay), passed in 69 of 72 counties. But didn’t get before the Legislature.
WDNR refused to advance it, read here. A lie, there's no such thing as a symbolic law.
Excuse - “Discussion. The LM yellow perch fishery is as permanently closed as we can make it within existing authority; there is no open season. It would be possible to amend Ch NR 25 to take LM (Lake Michigan) yellow perch off the list of commercial species or to reduce the harvest limit to zero, but either of those steps would only be symbolic."
Fact – Northern Pike were removed from NR 25 by 1988 (FM.-40-88), by wish of the WDNR themselves.
Yet at the meeting the WDNR replied: the only consequence of adoption of Question 58, was one of, If adopted, the WDNR would at some future point have to go before the legislature to have Yellow perch for the waters of Lake Michigan added back to the list of commercial species to be fished. Why would the WDNR go back to the Legislature to add perch back as a commercial species but not Pike? Why are pike removed because the WDNR wishes to, but not the yellow perch the public overwhelmingly wishes to see protected?
How did this resolution make it onto the State ballot when almost all others restricting commercials never got out of Great Lakes (GL) committee? Thank muskys. After several years of resolutions calling for greater GB musky size limits, all being rejected by GL committee, like magic, the 2008 resolution was put before not only the GL committee but the Warm Water comm. too. With the WW committee swinging the balance and passsing the resolution. I call that stacking the deck, how does the public get combined committees to vote on their resolution?
2009 – Question 75, prohibit nets from the waters containing and adjacent to the Green Can Reef, passed in all 72 counties.
WDNR refused to advance it, reasons given can be read here.
Excuse – Little or no commercial fishing currently taking place in one of the grids, lack of incidental catch of perch on monitored lifts 1988 to 1998; water is too shallow on average for chubs. Please note carefully, point #6, the years-mentioned are only 1988 to 1998. The year of 2001, containing facts critical of the WDNR's argument, is not included, even though specifically mentioned in the original resolution.
Fact – In 2001, in 48 hours one commercial chub fisher caught an estimated 20% of all perch that year. It appears he might have been warned not to fish there, but did anyway. While almost 3 pages of commercially restricted waters exist in NR 25.10, the WNDR sees no need to add the Green Can reef to that list. THE major spawning grounds of yellow perch in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan is not to be protected.
In rejecting this resolution, the WDNR appears to feel that there is no need to protect any habitat until such time as that habitat or species is actually being exploited, harmed or damaged? This appears to be in conflict with current pollution rules and past reasons for protecting beaches, forests, and other critical animal and fish habitat or other species with low populations, rules that protect for the future. Strange that a species whose numbers are down 97% can’t have their spawning grounds protected. Again, the WDNR finds perch to be the exception to the rule and instead protects the future profits of some commercial fishers by NOT placing any critical perch waters off limits to nets.
2010 – Question 81 General Purpose Revenue (GPR) to fund our commercial fishing industry
History for this: in 2009 a resolution 410109 was introduced in Milwaukee Co. was introduced to stop the theft of public funds, sport license monies, “… that the Great Lake Commercial Fishery be financially self supporting and receive no public funds.” Basically it quotes current law since 1977.
In committee meeting the DNR representative states that the DNR operate under clear policy direction from the Legislature and from the NRB to manage for a commercial fishery. Per law it’s not, manage for a commercial fishery, but manage for 'an economically viable and stable commercial fishery'. The DNR then recommend wording that eventually becomes Question 81. Wording that is nothing but a repeat from the 2000 report by the Great Lakes Commercial Fisheries Task Force, asking for GPR (tax monies) to replace sport monies, because commercial fishing will never be self supporting.
While the Legislature has heard the same cry for tax funds from the Commercial Fisheries Task Force, a cry they have chosen to ignore for at least 10 years, it now somehow becomes a cry of the sporting public? To be ignored for another 20 years?
So while the public wanted the current law obeyed, the resolution became one to change the law instead. Where is the cry to change the management? Shouldn’t it instead read ‘we recognize that it will never be self supporting’ as it is currently managed? Why was it o.k. to request management changes, to talk of cutting the fleet to comply with law, in 1988 , but not in 2010? Why is the chant instead now, change the law instead of change the management?
2011 - Milwaukee Co. Stock yellow perch in Lake Michigan again, Resolution 410311. Vote 105 'Yes' vs. 34 'No'.
While the DNR/WCC have publicly encouraged participation, for this resolution it appeared not. While having a chance to open discussion on the subject of perch stocking, the public meeting place for this resolution on stocking isn’t in SE Wis. or even Cleveland, it’s held in Brule. About as far away as possible from the citizens and businesses having the most to gain from stocking perch again. DNR argues against stocking perch again, WCC committee doesn't pass the resolution.
2013 - Milwaukee Co. Remove Lake Michigan Yellow perch as a commercial species, just like pike. Resolution 410113 Vote 185 'Yes' vs. 34 'No'.
While the DNR requested pike be removed from the list of commercial species in 1989. In committee the DNR argues against removing perch from the list of commerial species. This dispite GB perch numbers down 96% and Lake Michigan numbers down 99%. Currently GB perch are still netted with a 100,000 quota and the Lake Michigan perch fishing is closed with only a season closure. While the perch decline is greater then pike ever were, the DNR refuse to grant perch the same level of protection as pike and alewives. The publics attempt to stop perch netting, just like pike were, is ignored. I'm left to wonder if perch become extinct before the DNR ends the netting of them?