Pair of bills would allow commercial harvest of game fish including lake trout, yellow perch, walleye

On June 20, Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum) introduced SB 389. This Senate bill removes certain authorities of the Department of Natural Resources to regulate the commercial fishing industry and allows the bycatch of game fish. Last week, Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) introduced HB 4790 which is a companion bill in the House.

MUCC and its partners oppose this pair of bills which would allow the harvest of lake trout, yellow perch, walleye and other game fish for commercial fishing operations. These sport fish are planted, reared and/or managed by sport, or recreational, angler monies through fishing license sales and the Dingell-Johnson Act.

On the flip side, a proactive and widely-supported package of bills in the House of Representatives aims to codify the current rulemaking authority of the department into state statute. House Bill 4569, sponsored by Rep. Lilly (R-Park Township), House Bill 4567, sponsored by Rep. O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), and House Bill 4568, sponsored by Rep. Wendzel (R-Watervliet), are all part of a tie-barred, three-bill package. MUCC and its members support these bills.

These bills also help to ensure that state-licensed commercial fishing operations are held responsible for the harvest and selling of game fish and require them to report the location of their nets. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources supports these bills and is working with MUCC on amendments and bill language.

Michigan sport anglers bring in about $2.3 billion to the state’s economy annually, according to a report by Michigan United Conservation Clubs. The dockside value of the commercial fishing industry was estimated at $5.4 million in 2015, according to an annual report by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Michigan Trout Unlimited, said the economic risk of not updating our current commercial fishing statute is one that his organization and recreational anglers should be aware of.

“Michigan hosts nearly 1.5 million recreational anglers annually, with the second most out-of-state anglers in the country.  These recreational anglers pay for the conservation and management of our fisheries, and they turn each fish caught into a high-value economic proposition for the state through their dedicated angling expenditures throughout Michigan’s local economies,” Burroughs said. “Updating these commercial fishing regulations and keeping sought-after gamefish protected is imperative and just plain good business for Michigan.”

Michigan’s commercial fishing regulations have not been updated since the 1970s. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), there were 171 commercial fishing licensees in 1970 that harvested 16.4 million pounds of fish.

Since that time, the number of state-licensed commercial fishers has drastically decreased with about 25 operating commercial fishers today. In 2015, 3.4 million pounds of fish were commercially harvested — comprised mostly of whitefish.

Commercial fishing also plays an integral role in how the state manages its fisheries with respect to the 1836 Treaty Waters of the Great Lakes. Being proactive on this issue is important as the state and Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources enter the 2020 Consent Decree negotiations — a process that will affect our state’s fisheries, both sport and commercial, potentially for many years to come.

At this year’s Michigan United Conservation Club’s 82nd Annual Convention, a resolution passed the body of 108 voting delegates to support updating the statute for commercial fishing.

Amy Trotter, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said updating the outdated statute will place Michigan, its anglers and our fisheries in the best possible position moving into the upcoming negotiations.

“The forthcoming negotiations are driving the urgency to get this legislation completed this year, and MUCC will be working hard to protect our sportfishing heritage in Michigan,” Trotter said.

We need YOUR help in preventing game fish from being commercially harvested. Contact your state senator and representative to oppose SB 389 and HB 4790, and voice your support for HB 4567-4569.

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  1. Mark Taylor on July 1, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Vote no

    • Mark fry on July 10, 2019 at 9:20 am

      Tacking away are future of fishing

  2. Phillip on July 1, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Leave our lakes alone

  3. Todd bolam on July 1, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Leave sport fish alone

  4. David Knight on July 1, 2019 at 10:47 am

    If they are going to allow commercial fisherman to take sportfish Thunder sport fisherman should not have to buy a license anymore

  5. David Knight on July 1, 2019 at 11:06 am

    If they are going to allow commercial fisherman to take sportfish all of the Lakes then sport fisherman should not have to buy a license anymore sport fisherman pay for these fish commercial fisherman boat not fair

  6. FrankWyatt on July 1, 2019 at 11:06 am

    This is insane !! That kind Commercial fishing would devastate every fishing species in the great lakes. No to those ignorant bills , sb389 and hb4790 . Stupidity!

    • Kevin on July 1, 2019 at 7:55 pm

      Shows what you know about fishing the bay is full of walley that have ate all the perch the DNR devastated the bay all long time ago why do you the there is no smelt left anywhere

    • Jeff Drexler on July 2, 2019 at 8:48 am

      Vote no to commercial fishing.

  7. Edward E Hook on July 1, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Please appose HB 4790 regarding increasing species that Commercial fisherman may take on the Great Lakes. We Sportsman have paid for the establishment and/or maintenance of the species through our Fishing Licenses for years.

  8. william on July 1, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Say no to this Bill

  9. Kevin Clancy on July 1, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Very disappointed to even think our rep’s would take part in this. Upcoming generations will not have the pleasure of what we all pay for.

    • Eric on July 1, 2019 at 7:35 pm

      If they take them out make them pay for restocking.

  10. John Bianga on July 1, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I say no to commercial fishing in the great lakes.

  11. jeffery shaw on July 1, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    hell no itll hurt the private person and the lakes

  12. Rick Alderton on July 1, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Two dozen commercial should not decide what 1.5 million pay for…..Vote NO

  13. darien adolph on July 1, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Come on people, vote no on this proposal. This will deviate our sport fishing. Leave Trout, walleye and perch out of it.

  14. Wil on July 1, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Who’s pockets got fill $$$ for this bill? Total bs! What are/do the commercial fishermen do to help out the Fishery? Nothing but pillage and rape it. If you don’t believe me go watch them in Canada “lake Erie” they only want certain size fish, anything above or below that they throw back in the water mostly all dead only keep the prime size. And if you think it will be any different here you eyes are shut.

  15. George on July 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Vote no

  16. Keith Merser on July 1, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Kevin Daley I have fished the Saginaw bay and most of the other great lakes with my children for perch and walleye. I cannot believe you would introduce / support a bill that jeopardizes our fisheries for families not to mention the long term effects on tourism. This is absurd and a lack of concern for us michigan sportsman / fisherman.
    Keith Merser
    Deerfield Township resident and board member

  17. Alan J Smith on July 1, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Worse idea ever

    Commercial fishing will ruin everything in no time

    Strip mining our lakes

    A few commercial licenses will cost the Great Lakes States $million of dollars in no time from the Major sport fishing decline

    Where was all this congressional support as the DNRs fought for past 20 years to get the Great lakes back on track

    Vote NO commercial fishing for any game fish forever.yellow perch – Walleyes – Trout.

    sport fishing only

    Keep the commercial fishing Idea where it belongs DEAD FOE EVER !

    Tell these commercial fishing companies to go down to Illinois and catch Asian Carp to sell to China before this species ruins the Great Lake forever

    They can catch them all for ever

    Let them do the entire USA a great favor
    Fish Asian Carp forever till they are gone !

  18. Glen Gilchrist on July 1, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    No commercial fishing add on needed treat sportsman better.

  19. H J Nolan on July 1, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    More stupidity from the Republican controlled legislature. You get what you vote for.

    • Angi Mills on July 2, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      So…you’re saying that the Bill’s being introduced by all Republicans to stop this madness from going forward, to protect the Sports industry is “stupidity”? Or do you just see one “R” and presume to assume more nonsense to back up your ill-conceived notions regarding partisan lines? That’s just asinine. Your statement is not even fact based. HB4567-69 are all 3 Republican sponsored Bill’s in the House to protect our waters from the commercial fishing industry. Did your willful ignorance get in the way of reading what’s in black and white? What do you actually know about the ONE Republican that sponsored SB389 and the ONE Democrat sponsoring HB 4790, both of which would hurt our state’s economy and Sport Fishing Industry? Probably about as much as they know (or rather don’t know) about actual fishing in Michigan. Like someone said in an earlier post… who’s pockets got filled $$$ this time? Follow the money.

  20. Paul Bosschem on July 1, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Where has all the common sense gone. They only think about today and not the future. If the Republican Party supports these bills there will be the end of there control of the house and senate. I believe they forgot how many sportsmen there are in this state.

    • Angi Mills on July 2, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      I don’t think that the majority of the Republicans will go along with this pair of bad bills, seeing how the opposing bills are all written by Republicans in the House. Hopefully all Michigan anglers, and then some, will reach out to their Senators and Representatives to voice their opposition to these damaging regulations being considered. It’s just quite obvious that Commercial fishing would be detrimental to so many levels of economic activity in our state. I liked what someone else said about the fact that we pay for the fisheries and the maintenance and support the fishing industry, so how anyone can justify allowing the commercial guys to come in and overfish, again, is beyond me. We are only now seeing a positive impact from regulating them in the first place. Greed overtakes common sense more times than not. Imho, those commercial companies that are left over can adapt to a new line of work. I’m not bothered by their cries of losing income. Some things just aren’t worth the price we all pay.

  21. Anthony on July 1, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    After cutting the limit in half NOW they want commercial fishing?!?!

    • JL on July 2, 2019 at 10:03 pm


  22. James Endress on July 1, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    So there gonna take our pcp ridden fish and sell them commercially. Sounds like a lot of contaminated fish = lots of diseased people eating fish sold as good safe meals. Not a good idea to allow commercial fishing in contaminated waters.

  23. Tony on July 2, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Definitely not. We dont have hardly any lake perch left by the Wisconsin side of lake Michigan. Already because of commercial fishing.

  24. michael lalonde on July 2, 2019 at 7:05 am

    vote no!!!

  25. Andrew Fisher on July 2, 2019 at 8:15 am


  26. Dennis Sprick on July 2, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I believe in supporting our wildlife conservation which should be based on scientific data and not the purse strings of some special interest group or an official trying to secure votes. They have to leave their hands off our sport fishing industry that the fishermen have not only created but also work at and paid for!

  27. Michael J. Mastenbrook on July 2, 2019 at 8:33 am

    This should not be allowed. We have cut back on planting, there is already allowed commercial white fish netting allowed. Along with tribal netting. STOP IT.

  28. Jason G on July 2, 2019 at 8:49 am

    How can we fight against this?

  29. Kyle on July 2, 2019 at 9:01 am

    VOTE NO!!!! This is just ignorant

  30. Nicky Linke on July 2, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Wow! This is ridiculous! Vote NO!!!

  31. K Kocevar on July 2, 2019 at 9:50 am

    They have been constantly decreasing our catch limits on the fish our license fee paid to plant and now this …humm who’s getting paid kickbacks????

  32. Mark. Nastally on July 2, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Just remember these politicians when you vote at the next election. Voice your opinions and vote. Obviously the one’s that drafted these bills have never had a fishing license or went fishing in this great state. They are bought and paid for politicians. Vote them out of office.

  33. andy flannigan on July 2, 2019 at 11:12 am

    walleye and perch are already commercially fished on the canadian side of lake erie(with limits set every year). very sustainable

  34. Jason on July 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

    I’m an Erie fisherman and they commercial fish for perch down here and the perch took a hit last year so this year they still allow it but only in a certain area.

  35. Alan J Smith on July 3, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Vote NO PLEASE

    We have a healthy world class walleye fishery finally

    Yellow perch fishing is not anything near world class

    Canada just a few years ago retired several comercial yellow perch fishing for western Lake Erie and elswhere so why would Michigan.

    We will make 4 times the return trending our Michigan sport fishing opportunities
    Commercial fishing creates few jobs- low paying temporary Jobs – nothing like what sport fishing crowd brings and spends and as the fishery improves the returns will multiply


    • Clay Wilcox on July 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

      I agree that commercial fishing brings in many many problems that we spent decades trying to fix. This is ridiculous to even consider. I came here to this great state from Florida. We fought hard to stop the netting there because it was destroying our entire ecosystem in South Florida. Take a hint and stop the NETS. They kill all fish indiscriminately. The wife and I cannot seem to catch a single limit of Salmon or Lake Trout,Perch or Walleye when we go out. What do you think it will be like after two years of commercial harvesting. Kiss the awesome Great Lakes fishing goodbye. I hope we,as Sportsmen and Women can put a stop to this.

  36. Mark Gibb on July 3, 2019 at 10:49 am

    No to Commercial fishing in the Great Lakes. Senator and State Rep. Contacted

  37. Alex Campbell on July 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Regulated by the can be allowed ,do not let commercial fishing with out regulation and oversite by the D.N.R.

  38. Elmer C Lauria on July 6, 2019 at 5:55 am

    VOTE NO! on bills ( HB4790 , SB389 and house bill 4567-45690) and do NOT put these political Thieves back in the Senate or Representative. They should go to jail !

  39. Larry fannin on July 7, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Absolutely insane we need to stop this bill from passing skate over. Sport fishing is basically all we have left for tourist in Michigan. We can’t allow commercial fishing devastate our Fisheries then what are we going to do for tourism.

  40. Larry fannin on July 7, 2019 at 6:49 am

    Absolutely insane we need to stop this bill from passing. Sport fishing is basically all we have left for tourist in Michigan. We can’t allow commercial fishing devastate our Fisheries then what are we going to do for tourism.

  41. Roger on July 8, 2019 at 9:26 am

    No to commercial fishing on Great Lakes – Representative Triston Cole and Senator Wayne Schmidt contacted.

  42. Ken Mattson on July 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    This is the second set of bills aimed to destroy our great lakes fisheries. Commercial fisherman need more regulations, not less. VOTE NO ON THIS BILL!!

  43. Gary G on August 4, 2019 at 11:03 am


  44. Michael Bartnicki on September 17, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    What is the current status of these bills?

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