March 8, 2014
It was standing room only at the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Advisory Group meeting March 8. The big turnout was likely in response to the DNR Mille Lacs walleye harvest quota for 2014. Cutting the quota to less than one fourth that of last year may have gotten anglers’ attention.
Various harvest options were presented, most revolving around the crash of young walleyes. Options included pursuing other fish species instead of walleye. The DNR gave several explanations for the walleye crash—none included gillnets.
When challenged about the crashed walleyes’ impact on the local economy, DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira said “Federal court says we can’t fight tribal netting based on economics, only on conservation.”
PERM has long urged the DNR to take advantage of the court’s permission to use the conservation exception in its negotiations with the tribe. Failing that, the DNR is allowed unilateral action to ban the gillnets on Mille Lacs. PERM’s Economic Impact study was only designed to confirm the urgency of the DNR taking action via the conservation exception.