Michigan United Conservation Clubs board voted to oppose lower steelhead bag limits at the upcoming November Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 9:30 am at Lansing Community College.
Commissioners will consider one order: the MUCC-opposed amendment to proposed Fisheries Order 200.23A that would lower the bag limits of steelhead on certain streams. This order was proposed by Commissioner Dave Nyberg and is opposed by the Michigan DNR and its biologists.
The Nyberg amendment lacks data to support it, said Justin Tomei, MUCC policy assistant.
“Lowering the steelhead bag limit immediately after sunsetting the 2021 regulation does not give biologists time to measure the impacts to the fishery. Allowing the existing sunset to continue, and reassessing as it approaches is a more prudent course of action,” Tomei said. “The biologists we trust to make these decisions have said this proposed regulation change will have a minimal, if any, impact on population decline due to high levels of catch and release fishing already taking place. ”
The amendment would change steelhead bag limits on a number of streams across the state to one fish from three fish, and it would remove the existing regulatory sunset on the one-fish bag limit passed in 2021. On the Pere Marquette River, the amendment would prohibit the take of any natural, or unclipped, fish.
Requiring anglers to know the difference between wild and stocked fish is a regulatory hurdle our managers said is not worth the squeeze, Tomei said.
“Requiring anglers, especially those new to the sport or who just don’t do it much, to delineate between a wild and stocked fish could be problematic,” Tomei said. “The DNR steelhead survey shows that the amount of anglers who check for a clipped fin varies widely by stream, and would require serious education efforts for anglers.”
MUCC supports better data collection and ensuring we have the most relevant information to manage our natural resources. If commissioners seek to gain a better understanding of steelhead, data should be an important part of any regulation.
Some known steelhead rivers included in this amendment are the big Manistee River, the Betsie River and the Pere Marquette River. To read the amendment in full, click here.
There are three amendments to Land Use Orders of the Director being covered:
- Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 5: Management of boating access site, issues with motorized vehicles without trailers using parking intended for vehicles with trailers.
- Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 6: Metal detecting in the context of protecting historical resources.
- Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 7: Camping in the Ortonville Recreation Area, opening equestrian only campground to non-equestrian campers during summer months to encourage more mixed use of the facility.
Following these orders will be the director’s legislative report.
The Fisheries Committee will kick off the meeting with Addie Dutton presenting the Inland Trout Management Plan.
The Director’s Report will begin with the presentation of Lifesaving Awards to members of the Law Enforcement and Parks and Recreation Divisions.
MUCC reviews all land transactions exceeding 80 acres. One of three land transactions this month exceeds that threshold, Land Transaction Case #2023006, which consists of selling 120 acres of surplus land in Schoolcraft County to become DNR-managed lands.
There are no director’s orders up for information this month.
MUCC will be streaming the meeting on our Facebook page as technology allows.
To ensure our natural resources remain protected and managed thoughtfully and our outdoor heritage defended, join Michigan United Conservation Clubs today: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC.