The Special Interests

So what does this special interest group, the Commercial fishermen, get or want from the State? Free fish, for one, totaling $310 million (adjusted for inflation) over the past 30 years.
Why is so much of wealth in public fish, given to so few, yet the sportsmen get to subsidize so many?

- FM-40-88 - Limited entry / Quota system, best deal ever, give away fish to a select few. Eliminate some commercial fishers as there are not enough fish for everyone. Eliminate competition by giving the survivors quotas. While the State will sell a license, any new fisher must buy his fish from an existing fisher with quota. Way to stifle competition and not get the highest dollar for public fish.
- FH-23-09 - increase the Whitefish quota 16% in zone 3, now those fishers won't have to buy quota from zone 2 fishers.
- FH-21-08 - While FM-40-88 was introduced to protect large populations of fish from commercial fishers, FH-21-08 is introduced to protect the large number of commercial fishers from low populations of fish . This allows commercial fisher to re-enter the business after allowing a license to lapse. The way I read it, it raises the quota possessed by a fisher to the level of a commodity. With ever-reduced fish populations, this only postpones the inevitable, that being, there will probably never again be enough fish in the Great Lakes for 75 commercial fishers operating under the quota system. For just how long will the public have to support this special interest group?
- AB-449, no sales tax on boat fuel, check for your reps name.
-FH-25-11, an extra week for Whitefish, commercials get the fish, sportsmen pay the extra costs
- AB-176, removal of minimum harvesting requirements, deemed critical in 1989 when commercial fishing laws were rewritten.
- FH-10-12 , chub limit and "consider establishing criteria for automatic adjustment of harvest limits of other Lake Michigan commercial species". Automatic limits for commercials, not sportsmen. Any future increase in fish populations goes first to commercials. If Green Bay perch sport limits only went up 50% compared to commercials 500%, before automated harvests, just imagine all the perch commercials will get, after automated harvest limits. Same with whitefish and smelt, etc.

Now let’s check those 8 recommendations from CanAm (1993) for protecting the fisheries better.
# 1. Limiting ports where commercial fishermen may land their catches.
# 2. Limiting the length of season (number of days) individual fishermen have to take their quota. (To help prevent violating)
# 3. Requiring fishermen to have at least 20,000 lbs. of quota before they may participate in the fishery. (To help prevent violating)
# 4. Increasing license costs substantially.
# 5. Redefining unreported fish as "illegal" fish.
# 6. Rescheduling penalties consistent with the severity of violations committed, including mandatory revocation language.
# 7. Tightening requirements for daily catch reports.
# 8. Imposing additional requirements on wholesale fish dealers who are also licensed fishermen.

Numbers 1, 5, 7,8 were addressed by rule changes in 2005.
#2 didn’t happen. Cost of longer fishing seasons passed on to sportsmen.
#3 didn’t happen and in a way the opposite was done with FH-21-08. Cost of small fishers passed on to sportsmen. Meeting this 20,000 lb requirement to fish would reduce the fleet 30%. Removing from the Lake, the smaller, more expensive to manage, commercial fishers. Small fishers have greater costs and were thought to me more likely to violate for economic reasons.
#4, didn’t happen, at a public meeting, WDNR personal stated that the license fee could only be raised to $1000 not the necessary $5000 per license needed to make commercial fishing, economically viable. Cost passed on to sportsmen
#6, didn’t happen, instead of including mandatory revocation language, the public got the Repeat Offender Program. Cost passed on to sportsmen and the public. History shows what happens when there is no threat of losing your fishing rights. click here

Why are sportsmen prevented from buying out quotas, other commercials can buy quotas, but not public sportsmen?