UNITED STATES NEWS

Judge OKs updated Great Lakes fishing agreement between native tribes, state and federal agencies

Aug 24, 2023, 3:23 PM

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday approved an agreement between four Native American tribes and state and federal regulatory agencies to revise a fishing policy covering parts of three of the Great Lakes.

The deal extends for 24 years a system overseeing commercial and sport fishing in sections of lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior covered by an 1836 treaty. Those areas are entirely within the U.S. and under Michigan’s jurisdiction.

The agreement “respects and promotes tribal fishing rights and opportunities, yet it also preserves the Great Lakes fishery and recognizes the shared nature of the resource,” U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said in a written opinion.

He overruled objections from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians — which refused to join the talks because it contends the state has no authority over its fishing operations — and a sport fishing coalition that argued the deal would allow excessive catches of struggling species, particularly whitefish and lake trout.

In addition to the state and federal governments, participants in the deal include the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

The tribes are descended from Odawa and Ojibway nations, described collectively as Anishinaabek, that under the treaty ceded lands comprising nearly 40% of Michigan’s eventual territory. They retained hunting and fishing rights.

Rising tensions between tribal commercial operations and sport anglers led to a fishery management pact in 1985, which was updated in 2000. That version was due to expire two years ago but was extended to allow continued negotiations.

“We look forward to continuing to work with our federal and tribal partners, as well as our constituents, to effectively manage these world class fisheries of the Great Lakes for the benefit of current and future generations,” said Shannon Lott, acting director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The agreement, like its predecessors, sets zones where tribal fishing crews can operate and areas where commercial fishing is prohibited. It deals with topics such as catch limits and which gear tribal operations can use.

Particularly controversial is tribes’ use of gill nets, an effective tool that hangs in the water like a wall. Critics say they indiscriminately catch and kill too many fish. The new deal let tribes use the nets in more places, with restrictions on depth in the water they’re placed, the times of year they’re used and how much netting is deployed.

“Expanded gill netting now allowed in bays and other areas of the lakes that haven’t had them for more than 40 years will cause social and biological consequences,” said Tony Radjenoivch, president of the Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources.

Under the 2000 pact, Michigan spent more than $14 million paying tribal operations to transition from gill nets to trap nets, which are more selective.

But the latest version continues catch ceilings to keep populations from dropping too low, so the type of net the tribes use is irrelevant, Maloney said in his 139-page opinion.

“Whether they meet that harvest limit quickly by using the efficient method of gill nets, or whether they meet that harvest limit over time by using less efficient means of fishing, the tribes are still subject to the same harvest limits regardless of gear used,” the judge said.

Jim Johnson, a retired Michigan DNR fisheries biologist who submitted an affidavit supporting the sport fishing coalition, said expanded gill netting could cause further drop-offs of whitefish and lake trout. Both have plummeted in recent decades as invasive mussels unraveled Great Lakes food chains, he said.

“We’re just going to have to be vigilant and hope the state will intervene in a timely fashion” if numbers fall further, Johnson said.

Although the coalition wasn’t allowed to participate in the negotiations, Maloney said they could appeal his ruling. Johnson said they would consider it.

Bill Rastetter, attorney for the Grand Traverse Band, said the agreement “fairly allocates the fishery resource among the competing interests.”

It assures that the state, acting on behalf of sport anglers, and tribes “will continue their cooperative fishery management, in contrast to the open warfare of four decades ago,” he said.

United States News

Boeing is now aiming for its first astronaut launch at the beginning of June. Officials for the com...

Associated Press

Boeing’s 1st astronaut flight now set for June after a review of small leak on new capsule

Boeing is now aiming for its first astronaut launch in early June, after spending weeks struggling with more problems on the space capsule.

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Lawsuit filed in the death of dancer with a peanut allergy who died after eating mislabeled cookie

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — The estate of a young dancer who died after eating a mislabeled cookie containing peanuts has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the failure to properly label the package was grossly negligent. Órla Ruth Baxendale, 25, died Jan. 11 after eating a Florentine cookie sold by grocery retailer Stew Leonard’s and […]

11 hours ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Lara Trump touts RNC changes and a 2024 presidential victory for Trump in North Carolina

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — To a room full of Republicans from across North Carolina on Friday, former President Donald Trump railed against the Biden administration and vowed to win in the state for a third time — all over a speaker phone call after his son Eric Trump dialed him on stage. “I just want […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Nevada voter ID initiative can appear on 2024 ballot with enough signatures, state high court says

ELKO, Nev. (AP) — An initiative that would amend the Nevada Constitution to require that voters show photo identification at the polls can appear on the 2024 ballot as long as organizers collect enough signatures, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday. Organizers must gather just over 100,000 valid signatures by June 26 for it to […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Florida priest accused of biting woman who grabbed Holy Communion wafers during Mass

ST. CLOUD, Fla. (AP) — The Diocese of Orlando is defending a Catholic priest accused of biting a woman who tried to grab Holy Communion wafers during Mass at a central Florida church. The confrontation occurred Sunday afternoon at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Cloud. Police have forwarded a report to prosecutors accusing […]

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Judge OKs updated Great Lakes fishing agreement between native tribes, state and federal agencies