St. Clair Shores joins others in supporting game fishing

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 25, 2019

 The City Council recently passed a resolution in support of sport fishing in the state, in opposition to some legislation that could allow for more commercial fishing of game species like walleye and perch.

The City Council recently passed a resolution in support of sport fishing in the state, in opposition to some legislation that could allow for more commercial fishing of game species like walleye and perch.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

 Carl Diforti, of Warren, fishes at Blossom Heath Pier Oct. 23.

Carl Diforti, of Warren, fishes at Blossom Heath Pier Oct. 23.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — With the state Legislature considering two sets of bills to update commercial fishing regulations, St. Clair Shores has joined other lakefront communities in its support of bills before the state House that would, among other things, establish penalties for the taking of noncommercial species.

Tim Muir, of the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association, brought the matter to City Council members when the Legislature began tackling commercial fishing regulations, which have not been updated since the 1970s.

There are two sets of bills moving forward, he explained Oct. 21, with House Bills 4567-69 ensuring that commercial license fees cover the administration of the program, protect sports fishing by establishing penalties for taking noncommercial species, codify which species are and are not allowed to be taken by commercial fisheries, and update the authority of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to maintain and monitor recreation and commercial fishing on Lake St. Clair.

“The biggest difference between the two is the Senate bill ... will allow the commercial harvest of game fish,” he said.

Senate Bill 389 and House Bill 4790 would allow commercial fishing of certain game fish, including walleye and yellow perch.

“What it boils down to is, trying to prevent the overharvesting of species by the commercial fishing industry,” Councilman Chris Vitale added. “We see a lot of benefits from fishermen who come into this city hobby fishing. If there’s something available to protect that, I think it’d be wise to support it.”

The city councils of Bay City and Aus Gres have passed similar resolutions, placing their cities on record as not supporting the commercial taking of game fish.

Councilman Ron Frederick said that he would not like to see commercial fishing operations able to overharvest species like walleye, bass or perch, because “one of the personalities of our city is fishing.”

“This is a way for us to say, ‘Hey, let’s do what we can for our lake,’” he said.

Muir told the City Council that he fears that if commercial operations were allowed to take more game species of fish, they would try to incrementally increase what they are allowed to take each year.

But Councilman Peter Rubino said that he wasn’t convinced that such an increase would happen.

“We still need to eat fish and we still need to get fish from places,” he said.

He was the lone dissent on the motion for a resolution in support of recreational fishing and the update of Michigan’s commercial fishing regulations Oct. 21. It passed 6-1.

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