Ron Shcara is well informed about Mille Lacs. So we’re happy to read his straightforward account about the collapse of the walleye population there. The mainstream media is catching up with the Mille Lacs fishery management issue!
Schara’s account in the Friday, April 12 Outdoor News, “Saving Mille Lacs: Minnesota’s walleye stadium,” doesn’t speculate about any confounding factors that need lots more research. He says “it’s a walleye crisis of our own making.” The reason—once again—is the “spring netting assaults by eight bands of Chippewa,” which he combines with the “voodoo walleye rules by the DNR.”
“It’s time for a reality check” according to Schara, and we couldn’t agree more—except maybe to add, “long past time.”
Schara presents a list of parties that “should be outraged.” Then he unwinds the DNR and tribal fish manager’s walleye game plan. He highlights the contradiction of common sense referenced by Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson two weeks ago. That is, the DNR’s agreeing to strict walleye restrictions, while agreeing to netting that is “highly effective” in harvesting the very walleye protected by their restrictions. (That might explain Schara’s “fish management lunacy” comment.)
Governor Dayton is called on to get behind a search for solutions, in a process “free of political correctness and racial overtones.” Schara challenges the DNR in the same way. Go after a common sense solution, while remembering that “the Mille Lacs Band has a history of wanting to be good neighbors.”
Suggestions by Dick Sternberg, former DNR fish biologist who “predicted the lake’s walleye population demise over a decade ago” are a good place to start according to Schara. He draws these suggestions from a PERM publication written by Dick Sternberg, “The Mille Lacs Fish Management Plan: Threat to Minnesota’s Premier Walleye Fishery (On Behalf of Mille Lacs Lake Landowners.)”
PERM retained Sternberg’s services when Mille Lacs “co-management” was first getting underway. PERM paid well over $50,000 for expertise that could temper the DNR’s initial approach to accommodating the impact of treaty harvest of walleye. A follow up report “The New Mille Lacs Plan: A Closer Look“, by Dick Sternberg on behalf of PERM” has additional suggestions to address “the constraints of treaty management.”
We hope that other journalists will be as forthcoming in shining a light on the Mille Lacs fishery management issue.