Joe Fellegy, writing about the DNR’s annual Roundtable in Outdoor News’ January 22 issue, saw that Mille Lacs was “center stage” on the Agenda. It showed how the ongoing (and never-ending) portrayal of Mille Lacs is a huge issue, which he calls the “controversy capitol of Minnesota fishing.”
Fellegy pointed out the lake’s many fish-related records as the “ultimate classic natural walleye lake.” But he called its latest record “the most-published negative vocabulary ever associated with a Minnesota sport fishery.” This he saw coming from the “extremist workings of treaty fisheries management.”
Today the large diverse Mille Lacs walleye-fishing community is “terrorized and victimized by the biggest PR disaster” ever. He credits “treaty fisheries management, and the callous indifference of state and tribal government personnel” with creating an endless negative media cycle. Last summer’s unneeded walleye fishing closure brought a “tidal wave of collapse and crisis stories.”
The worst part of all this is the media’s “false narrative” that the Mille Lacs walleyes are “about gone.” Until three years ago walleye fishing was pretty good. Since then, “the political treaty-management quotas were chopped by over 90 percent,” using much tighter limits. Fishing traffic was estimated to have fallen about the same percentage. “But,” Fellegy points out; the walleye population “is not down 90 percent and remains fishable.” Fellegy describes this with a glossary of negative PR terms and misleading media stories.
Fishing-related businesses are used to dealing with Mother Nature, and dealing with an ever-evolving sport-fishing economy. So Fellegy thinks it’s “wrong” to hit them with the huge losses that come from “extremist” treaty management and its “intolerable PR crap storms.”
Fellegy also faults journalists and politicos who so often play the race card, which derails discussion and allows “high-impact players to escape accountability for their policies and actions.”
The lack of transparency of the closed-door Technical Committee involving the DNR, bands, and GLIFWC is especially irksome for Fellegy. He gives examples of a growing awareness in the media about how secret meetings fuel distrust and deprive the public of knowing how fish management decisions are made. He challenges the DNR about being so timid in pursuing transparency.
Fellegy then lists results of treaty fisheries management at Mille Lacs as a litany of negative outcomes for everyone involved.
Read more (as only Joe can tell it)