A Brief History Of The Coalition To Protect Michigan Resources
The Coalition To Protect Michigan Resources has its roots in the lawsuit filed by three Michigan Tribes against the State of Michigan in Federal Court in 1973. The Tribes and the Federal Government claimed that the State of Michigan had no right to regulate Tribal fishing in the Great Lakes due to the Treaty of Washington signed by the Tribes, the Federal Government and the State in 1836.
In 1979, Federal Judge Noel Fox’s ruling gave the Sault Ste Marie Band, Bay Mills Indian Community and the Grand Traverse Band unregulated fishing rights in the Treaty waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The resulting unregulated gill net fishing in the Great Lakes led to overharvest and regular Court orders closing parts of the Great Lakes to commercial fishing.
In the fall of 1983, the Tribes filed a motion with the Court to allocate the Great Lakes fishery between themselves and the State. In 1984, negotiations began for the purpose of allocating the fishery between the Tribes, state licensed commercial fishers and the sport fishing public.
It was at this time that the MUCC’s attorney, and Steve Schultz the attorney for Bill Hicks and the Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association sought to intervene as party defendants. Federal Judge Richard Enslen reserved decision on those motions, but allowed MUCC, the GTASFA, Michigan Charter Boat Association and the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association to participate in the proceedings as “litigating amici curiae.” (“Amicus curiae” is a term the courts use to define a person or organization that is allowed to participate in a lawsuit on a limited basis set by the court.) Steve Schultz was the attorney for the GTASFA, MCBA, and the MSSFA, and MUCC worked with their attorney. Peter Steketee. There was no formal coalition formed but theSE groups worked together.
In April 1985, a fifteen year agreement was reached which was called the 1985 Consent Agreement. The agreement divided the treaty waters in the Great Lakes into tribal commercial fishing zones and State sport fishing zones, among other terms.
In 1999, the “Michigan Fisheries Resource Conservation Coalition” was formed to prepare for upcoming negotiations as the 1985 Consent Agreement was expiring in the spring of 2000. The member organizations included the Blue Water Sport Fishing Association, Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association, Hammond Bay Anglers Association, Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited and Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association. MUCC and the Michigan Charter Boat Association were a part of the process but were not members of the coalition.
The coalition retained Steve Schultz again because of the expertise he showed and the experience he gained in working toward the 1985 agreement. The Little River Band and the Little Traverse Bay Band also joined the process as they were newly federally recognized Tribes. There were now five Tribes that were plaintiffs in the case.
After negotiating for two years, a twenty year agreement was reached in August, 2000 that became the 2000 Consent Decree governing Great Lakes fishing. The cornerstone of this agreement was the use of science in calculating the availability of fish stocks and using that to determine harvest rates. The State also bought out state licensed commercial fishers and their boats and trap net gear, which was transferred to the Tribes. This allowed for the removal of 14,000,000 feet of gill net effort in Northern Lake Michigan which reduced the by-catch of sport fish in those areas.
In 2004, all parties were brought together to negotiate an inland agreement to cover inland hunting, fishing and trapping rights. The Michigan Fisheries Resource Conservation Coalition was dissolved and the Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources (CPMR) was formed. The Coalition then became the amicus curiae for those negotiations.
The Coalition’s membership in 2007 included: Blue Water Sport Fishing Assn, Burt Lake Preservation Assn, Cheboygan Area Sport Fishing Assn, Great Lakes Council of Federation of Fly Fishers, Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Assn, Hammond Bay Anglers Assn, Michigan Bear Hunters Assn, Michigan Council Trout Unlimited, and the Walloon Lake Trust and Conservancy.
CPMR then hired Steve Schultz to represent it in the inland negotiations. He was an integral part of the 1985 and 2000 processes and the Coalition knew his knowledge and insight would be a very valuable asset. In 2007, an agreement was reached, which addressed fishing on inland lakes and streams, as well as tribal hunting and gathering. This 2007 Inland Consent Decree has no termination date. The Coalition, as in all previous agreements, provided valuable input into the negotiation process.
We have all three agreements posted below.