Tribes ask Governor to disband MLFAC

Joe Fellegy, in his Friday, November 4 Outdoor News commentary called state-tribal co-management of Mille Lacs a “destructive gale.” It was a storm that “rips at the sport fishing community, with no end in sight.”

He stated that it is “no surprise that angler numbers and hours fell to all-time lows” after facing a super-low walleye quota, no keeping, and a night-fishing ban. This “maximum conservation” still wasn’t enough he according to Fellegy. “So, clobber anglers and suffering businesses with fuzzy guesstimated walleye ‘hooking mortality’ assessments to drive ’em over the unscientific low quota, and hit ’em with a Sept. 6 complete shutdown.”

The resignation of Jamie Edwards, Mille Lacs Band representative, from the DNR’s 17-member Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee added to the ongoing PR disaster. His resignation letter to DNR’s Tom Landwehr and copied to Gov. Dayton brought unfair negative press for Mille Lacs and for MLFAC. It smeared the MLFAC as “anti-science and anti-tribal.”

Fellegy found even bigger news. “Unreported by state officials, even to MLFAC leadership: letters from tribal officials asking Gov. Dayton to disband MLFAC!”

Fellegy attended all MLFAC meetings over the past year. He “heard no anti-Indian comments from members.” He pointed out “Mr. Edwards was rarely present and faced no flak.” Fellegy then asked, “Minnesota’s DNR formed MLFAC for input on the state’s side of co-management. Why should any tribal officials be on that committee, especially after their disband-MLFAC requests?”

Especially galling for Fellegy was how the DNR minimized its Sept. 6 shutdown with the line that Mille Lacs has “minimal fall fishing and business.” Actually, “Mille Lacs ranked as one of Minnesota’s top fall-fishing draws,” according to Fellegy. Fellegy defended MLFAC’s describing the gillnetting of game fish, especially during the spawn, as culturally “offensive to most Minnesotans.” He called out the “misplayed race card” that too often “shuts down discussion and debate of tribal-related policymaking.” Fellegy also called out the media for “defending and insulating the unjustifiable co-management system and its impacts.”

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