The Coalition to Protect Michigan’s Resources (CPMR), a sport fishing organization focused on protecting the fishery in the Great Lakes, filed an appeal opposing entry of the 2023 Great Lakes Consent Decree in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The order to accept the decree, given in August by Judge Paul Maloney, entered the five sovereign Michigan Tribes, United States and the State of Michigan into the decree for a duration of 24 years.
In handing down his order, the judge rejected the Coalition to Protect Michigan Resource’s information showing that biological harm is likely to happen to the resource and there will not be proper measures in place to mitigate that harm over the 24-year duration of the decree.
The coalition’s appeal will focus on the order’s disregard for biological evidence that the decree, as proposed and accepted, could irreversibly harm the resource. The coalition presented expert witnesses and pages of biological literature showing gillnets are unsustainable and will decimate local fisheries in Michigan.
Gillnetting in Michigan was banned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources during the 1970s after research concluded gillnets are non-selective and have disastrous consequences for fishery populations. The Tribes asserted their treaty right to fish with gillnets, and after several court cases and injunctions, the first Great Lakes Consent Decree was adopted in 1985.
Amy Trotter, Michigan United Conservation Clubs CEO and CPMR treasurer, said that the focus of the coalition has always been the health of the Great Lakes fishery.
“The sustainability of the Great Lakes fishery has always been our top priority,” said Trotter. “Our position has been unwavering, the 2023 Great Lakes Consent Decree, as written, would cause potentially irreversible harm to the populations of vital sportfish species. The coalition has held the position for years that gill nets are indiscriminate, lethal, and dangerous for the fishery.”
CPMR members have served as amici through every iteration of the court litigation and negotiations since the late 1970s. President Tony Radjenovich said that the coalition has come too far and will continue the fight.
“The volunteer members of CPMR have worked too hard, for too long, to give up now, at the end,” said Radjenovich. “We are committed to exhausting every reasonable legal option we have to ensure the health of the Great Lakes fishery is protected.”
CPMR comprises Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Michigan Charter Boat Association, the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association and Hammond Bay Area Anglers, accompanied by an assortment of angling and conservation supporting members.
Since the coalition’s inception, it has worked to ensure that recreation anglers’ voices are represented during the Great Lakes Consent Decree negotiations. You can support the work of CPMR by donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/protect-great-lakes-sportfishing.