Fisheries Orders up at September NRC Meeting

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will gather input from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other stakeholders regarding changes to a few fishing regulations this week. 

The NRC will meet virtually on Thursday to consider a fisheries-heavy agenda. The Michigan DNR will host the meeting and a recording can be viewed on this online platform.

Carol Rose will take over as the chair of the NRC, as her appointment has been solidified. 

MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter said that many of the specific fisheries orders on the agenda are important for local stakeholders to review and weigh in on, as they will impact particular bodies of water around the state of Michigan.

“These proposed regulation changes will impact a number of lakes, rivers and streams around Michigan and are intended to assist the DNR in meeting management goals,” Trotter said. “As always, MUCC staff will work diligently on behalf of our member-passed resolutions to ensure that anglers are well represented in the rule-making process” 

Members of the NRC will hear from fisheries staff on the proposed orders and will receive an update from DNR staff on the status of the Great Lakes Consent Decree process and on a second round of deer hunting regulations this year. 

New Business

Members of the NRC will consider three new fisheries orders this month, including herptile collection, possession limits and spawning rules.  

Commissioners will first consider an order which would protect two species of salamander and one species of frog from public collection. Little is known about these species, although they are thought to have limited populations in the state. DNR staff recommends additional protections for these species until more is known about their population dynamics. 

NRC members will then consider an order intended to protect spawning walleye in the Saginaw Bay watershed. This rule would change the tackle regulations to allow anglers to take advantage of fish species that are in season, while also protecting spawning walleye. 

Further, members of the NRC will gather input on a rule to clarify possession limits of fish. This order specifically deals with definitions regarding fish caught using illegal methods, namely snagging. 

DNR Director Dan Eichinger will also consider four new land transactions this month, including acquisitions in Clare, Branch and Oakland counties. More detailed information on these transactions can be found on the NRC agenda

Old Business

The NRC will resume business on five fisheries orders at this meeting dealing with topics ranging from hook size and gear restrictions to fishing seasons and stream designations. These orders were first introduced in August.

The first order on the agenda deals with the legal size of fishing hooks on the Bear River in Emmet County. Based on robust angler feedback, the special hook size restriction zone was confusing. The order under consideration would add common landmarks to more clearly denote the areas in question and would clarify rules from the footbridge north of Lake Street upstream to Lake Street Dam (T34N, R5W, S6). Similar orders are also in place in Allegan, Benzie, Berrien, Charlevoix and Van Buren counties. 

The second fisheries order intends to alter the designations of certain trout streams, which would change the regulation classifications of these bodies of water. DNR Fisheries Division recommends adding Carter Creek in Roscommon County and removing Wright Creek in Oscoda County from the order. 

The third fisheries order on the agenda intends to alter spearfishing regulations on North Manistique (Round) Lake in Luce County. If passed, this order would open the lake to  spearfishing through the ice for northern pike and muskellunge. 

A fourth fisheries order deals with spawning closures on the Betsie River Homestead Dam area in Benzie County, as well as the Torch River in Antrim and Kalkaska counties and the Douglas Lake pike marsh in Cheboygan County. In this order, NRC members will consider measures to close portions of the Betsie and Torch rivers to fishing during spawning runs to reduce potential harms to those fisheries. This order would also remove the current restrictions on the Douglas Lake pike marsh, to “get rid of an unnecessary regulation,” as noted in the memo

Lastly, the DNR Director will consider an administrative rule regarding state-licensed commercial fishers. This order is used to address issues impacting management of the state-licensed commercial fishery for the better protection, preservation, maintenance and harvesting of the fish. According to the memo, these rules have been renewed annually for the past four years and require renewal again in 2020. It is recommended for renewal without change.

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