Effective at midnight Friday, the use of motorized boats in Michigan will be prohibited per an Executive Order (EO) from the governor. This order extends to fishing from a boat with a gas or electric (trolling) motor affixed to it.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) was founded in 1937 on the principles of conservation and protecting scientific management from politics, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent decision to prohibit the use of motorized boats or similar watercraft statewide is not scientific, nor necessary.
When the first EOs were issued, the governor lauded and encouraged recreation in the outdoors as a safe haven for Michiganders’ physical and mental health.
MUCC has received numerous calls, emails and messages from Michigan anglers and recreationists since the announcement, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter.
“We have not protested the necessary closure at Tippy Dam because of anglers disobeying the orders for social distancing,” Trotter said. “However, this EO is using a hatchet where a scalpel was appropriate and necessary.”
While no communication was received in advance of this notice nor does EO 2020-42 specifically address this issue, the DNR states that “Non-motorized boating, such as canoeing, kayaking and sailing, falls within the outdoor activities permitted under the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order. However, the use of a motorboat, jet ski or similar watercraft is not permitted for the duration of the Executive Order, which is currently set to expire at 11:59 p.m. [on] April 30..”
In the announcement from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), they wrote the DNR “has received many reports about the heavy use of boat launches across the state and the subsequent congregation of people at these launches in violation of social distancing requirements and in a manner that threatens public health.”
Alternatively, those boat launches individually could have been closed and the individuals violating social distancing ticketed. MUCC has contacted DNR leadership and will be drafting a letter of disapproval to the governor.
In only a few short hours, an outpouring of hopelessness has come from the angling community, many of whom are MUCC clubs and members. We want our clubs and our members to know that we hear you. And we are prepared to stand next to you when decisions are made that affect our collective way of life.
MUCC understands that spring brings walleye and steelhead into our rivers, bowfishing in the bayous and bays begins, and bass and bluegill start to become active on their beds. And we want to remind anglers that not abiding by the current law could mean longer restrictions on where and when you can fish.
As we look ahead to spring turkey season starting next Saturday, this precedent proves troublesome for anglers and hunters alike. We encourage those engaging in outdoor activities to stay close to home in their pursuit of the outdoors and practice safe social distancing during this time to prevent further closures of our public spaces.
Currently, it is against the law to be congregated with any individuals that do not reside within your household, and it is punishable by a civil fine of $1,000.
Contact: MUCC Public Information Officer Nick Green, firstname.lastname@example.org