– Walleye showing up after two years of no gillnets
DNR Blue Ribbon Panel dodges the gillnet problem on Mille Lacs

The walleye being caught in Mille Lacs this year are mostly in the 13 to 15-inch range. That tells us they are about two years old. That in turn tells us they hatched in the years when there was no gill netting due to weather conditions (late ice-out).

It is also logical to conclude that this year-class of fish was not adversely affected by water clarity, zebra mussels, global warming, spiny fleas, cormorants, muskies, northern, or high bass population. Observers should then surmise (with confidence) that the effecting variable was gill netting.

In this case, the lack of gill netting resulted in respectable levels of reproduction (despite the reduced population of spawning fish). Nature has provided us with the perfect scientific conditions that verify what many have long suspected. Gill netting during the spawn ruins a lake’s balance and targeting of a species results in near extermination.

Of course this same conclusion could be reached by looking at historical data from other lakes that have been gill netted. But now Mother Nature has provided us with irrefutable proof of a cause and effect relationship between gill netting and the walleye population’s demise.

This also shows that the DNR’s approach to improving the walleye population by targeting other species, such as northern or bass was misguided. Further, it is evidence that the DNR’s “Blue Ribbon Panel” was far off the mark when they neglected to consider gill netting as a possible factor.

Nothing in their report, “Mille Lacs Lake Walleye Blue Ribbon Panel Data Review and Recommendations for Future Data Collection and Management,” mentions the problem of gillnetting during the spawn.

The Panel started “by agreeing that the decline in Mille Lacs walleye began around 2000 … which corresponded to a period of considerable change for both the walleye fishery and the lake itself.”

“Significant changes” included going to a joint recreational and tribal walleye fishery in 1998, and introduction of harvestable slot limits the next year and protected slot limits in 2003. Then they add, “However, these changes in the fishery occurred against a backdrop of lake changes related to water quality, etc., etc., etc., (see the list above.)

Not once in the entire 31 pages of the report do the words “gill net” or “gill netting” appear regarding harvest of walleye! Surveys, data, assessments, yes, but never harvest, let alone “during the spawn.”

The DNR has neglected to responsibly manage the resource in an unbiased manner for the people of Minnesota. The Tribes and GLIFWC are equally culpable in this mismanagement. There is no longer any need for debate.

These are my opinions and have not been reviewed or approved by anyone else.

Let me know where I am wrong.

Joe Ward, PERM Board Member

– Governor Dayton, Resign!

“I believe all hunting and fishing in Minnesota should be done under the same rules.” Gov. Mark Dayton, Candidate Forum at Game Fair, August 2010. Gov. Dayton knew then about the issues at Mille Lacs. After the election, he appointed Tom Landwehr as DNR Commissioner. He also knew there were issues.

Five years later, nothing has been done. Will he use a meet and great at Game Fair in a few weeks to announce the future of Mille Lacs? I doubt it; maybe a press release at best.

The hierarchy of the MN DNR, Tribal DNR managers, and GLIFWC must take full responsibility for mismanagement of Mille Lacs. The Supreme Court did not order co-management. They stated the DNR must sit down with Tribal governments and figure a way to accommodate court-affirmed treaty harvest rights. They also stated, should conservation of the 1837 treaty area be negatively affected, bring it back to the court.

Therefore, I am telling Gov. Mark Dayton to FIRE the hierarchy of the DNR, along with head of Fisheries and his advisors, prior to turning in his resignation. Corporate Minnesota would not stand for this type of management, and neither should the citizens of Minnesota!

Doug Meyenburg, PERM President

Mille Lacs walleye quota expected to be reached by end of month

The DNR just announced what amounts to an upcoming announcement about the end of keeping a Mille Lacs walleye for this year.

Anybody think it wouldn’t come to this? We’re a long way from the 400,000 and 500,000-pound walleye quotas from years past; in a lake once known as a “walleye capitol”

Yes, “unusual circumstances” can be included in the explanation for why we are at this point. But “co-management” negotiations that dodge the gillnet issue leaves us with a measly 28,000 pound quota. Not much wiggle room there for any “unusual circumstances.”

DNR biologists are noticing a large increase in the small walleye population from the 2013-year class. They should also notice that such a strong year class follows no gillnetting due to very late ice out in 2013. We expect a similar strong year class for 2014 because there again was very limited gillnetting.

Don’t give up on Mille Lacs. Take advantage of Northern pike and smallmouth bass being “at or near record highs” and the ” liberal regulations for these species” in what the DNR calls “one of the premiere fishing destinations in the state.” Just don’t pretend that this takes the place of a premiere walleye-angling destination.

Mille Lacs’s popularity rises and falls with its walleye population, but its sustainability is tangled up in political considerations and “co-management” negotiations. What’s needed is more basic conservation and fewer sophisticated statistical models. That could drive common sense negotiations that recognize using gillnets during the spawn benefits no one, and leaves most Minnesotans out in the cold when it comes to this (former) premiere walleye angling destination.

Doug Meyenburg, President, PERM

“Co-management” land-grab. Again
Commentary Excerpt

By Joe Fellegy, Outdoor News, July 17, 2015

Joe Fellegy writes about big challenges to state management authority and citizen rights to Minnesota resources. They come from renewed attempts to project tribal sovereignty over territory where it does not exist. If successful, the same “co-management” process that exists for Mille Lacs could spread across all of northern Minnesota.

Fellegy starts with the fish-in by Leech Lake and White Earth Chippewa gillnetters at Lake Bemidji before the 2010 Minnesota fishing opener.

“Their goal: get arrested for violating state law and spawn a major court-case claiming “treaty rights” across the 1855 Treaty ceded territory, a huge swath from the north end of Lake Mille Lacs and the Brainerd lakes area to the Canadian border at one point, and reaching the Dakota border at another. The DNR didn’t bite. But efforts to gain tribal harvest and co management rights in that 1855 territory, and possibly across all of northern Minnesota, are-very much alive today.”

1855 “treaty rights” claim revived

At meetings he attended last fall and early this June, Fellegy heard from tribal sovereignty activists, including Winona LaDuke and Peter Erlinder. “As usual, behind cushy talk about fish, ducks, wild rice, water quality, culture, heritage and tradition, [were] tribal governments and their attorneys … seeking more tribal harvest rights and management authority.”

This “would-be dramatic power grab” is based on an expanded notion of 1855 “treaty rights” outlined in law professor Peter Erlinder’s recent treatise “Minnesota v Mile Lacs Band of Chippewa 19th Century U.S. Treaty-Guaranteed Usufructuary Property Rights, the Foundation for 21st Century Indigenous Sovereignty.”

Fellegy noted that Erlinder uses U. S. District Judge John Tunheim’s dismissal of fish-poaching charges as support for his expansion of “treaty rights.” Fellegy describes Tunheim’s ruling as one in which “an individual’s 1837 treaty rights trump state, tribal, and federal law.”

Down-the-road, Fellegy could see “Individual enrollees from outside the 12-county 1837 Minnesota ceded territory claiming new ‘rights’ at Mille Lacs and across hundreds of lakes, umpteen miles of streams, and millions of land-acres.” In other words, “much-expanded tribal harvest rights and tribal management authority across all of northern Minnesota—about everywhere north of Interstate 94.”

Fellegy wonders, “given the powerful legal and political forces embracing such arguments, with potentially giant costs and negatives for Minnesota, what’s state government’s response plan?”

Read more

DNR Commissioner’s Pay Raise

Little Tommy just got a raise from $119,517 to $154,992 only $35,475., for a guy that should be fired for his lack of attention with regards to Mille Lacs. At least now he can afford some bi-focals so he can read the 1837 treaty decision, and get it back into the US Supreme Court. That wonderful document was just used again in dropping charges for “Operation Squarehook”! Thanks again to Gov “Markie Dayton” for all your faith in this matter!

Douglas J Meyenburg Jr