Fishing Agreement and the future of the Great Lakes
Dear Members and Friends of the Coalition,
Recently, the Traverse City Record Eagle reported on negotiations aimed at a new agreement on Great Lakes fishing between five Michigan Tribes and the State of Michigan. The Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources is participating in those negotiations as a representative of sportfishing and recreational interests. Members of the Coalition include the Grand Traverse Area Sportfishing Association in the Traverse City area, MUCC, and a dozen other organizations.
In response to the impression that the Record Eagle may have left, we are writing to set the record straight on two critical issues in the negotiations. First, let there be no mistake: the Coalition and its members respect the Treaty right to fish Great Lakes waters. We have recognized that right for decades. That the right exists is not the end of the issue, however.
For 35 years, the Tribes, State and Coalition’s members have recognized that the Great Lakes fisheries are a shared resource. Roughly half of the available fish stocks in the Treaty waters have been reserved for the Tribes; the other half are reserved for state-licensed fishers. The issue in the current negotiations is whether that rule will apply in the future.
From recent court filings, four Tribes, including the Grand Traverse Band in the Traverse City area, the State, the Federal government and the Coalition appear committed to continuing the current agreement, including the shared fishery and the protecting the home waters of each tribe. One tribe does not appear to hold that view. That is the challenge the Coalition is concerned about. If that view is adopted, the sport fishery and the home waters of the tribes could be forever changed, or even destroyed.
Second, notwithstanding what some may imply, the Coalition’s members have enjoyed a good working relationship with the Tribes for years. We expect that to continue, but we will defend now and in the future the shared resource that is an important part of Michigan’s fishing and recreational opportunities.
Tony Radjenovich, President
Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources