Doug Meyenburg comments after MLFAC meeting
Isle, February 15, 2017—Last night, while attending the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee Meeting, I heard the head of DNR Fisheries Don Pereira announce to the committee and public in attendance that Mille Lacs again will be catch and release for the 2017 open water season.
This reg comes after last summer’s hot bite, and this winter’s catch being on fire? (Just look at the pictures on resorters’ websites.)
Pereira pointed out that negotiations with the tribes weren’t going very well because they are mad about non-tribal anglers going over our 2016 quota. We must remember that 2016 regulations were catch and release only, so quotas are made-up hooking mortality numbers. NOT ONE fish was allowed to be harvested by non-tribal anglers.
Pereira admitted that the issues are political and not being made with biology as the determining factor. My question would be “will 2017 regs be a kiss and make up year”?
The DNR pointed out that there is a spike in angler activity in the last few weeks of July, which boosts hooking mortality. But this is discounted by most people on the Committee as they are on the lake daily and don’t see enough boats. For example, one Committee member who sells live bait said that the day after the 4th of July weekend his sales of live bait dropped like a box of rocks. So where does the DNR get these numbers?
Governor Mark Dayton ordered stocking in Mille Lacs last year. But the DNR team last night admitted it is only being used for research data and not to add fish to the lake. I sit there representing PERM as an observer wondering how these resorters and other business people are going to make it. Their deep-rooted livelihoods are at stake. So many of these people have become good friends and it pains me to see this happening to them in the name of politics.
Is this the end of the story? NO. The 1855 Treaty is now being disputed in the Crow Wing County court. The 1855 Treaty ceded territory includes Mille Lacs Lake, the Brainerd Lakes area, Winni, Leech, Lake Bemidji, and everything in between. If history holds true, some federal judge will give the White Earth tribe the same harvest rights as Mille Lacs tribe has. The map of 1855 treaty area is at perm.org. Look it up.
Now is the time to stand up for the Mille Lacs area and the state of Minnesota. Tribal co-management is not working. The Governor and MN DNR are responsible for the natural resources being regulated for all citizens. But it looks like the tail is wagging the dog.
Please take the time to share this email. Then contact Governor Dayton, DNR Commissioner Landwehr, and your House and Senate members and ask them to take the action required to iron this mess out.