DNR proposes change to law involving walleye caught in fishing n - WNEM TV 5

DNR proposes change to law involving walleye caught in fishing nets

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
BAY COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

The Department of Natural Resources is considering a change to the commercial fishing of walleye.

The proposed law change would allow commercial fishing operations to keep walleye caught in fishing nets. This is for accidental catch.

The idea has some people who fish on the Saginaw River very upset.

"I like to think of Saginaw Bay and recently the surrounding areas as walleye country," said Pete Studders, recreational walleye fisherman.

The Saginaw Bay is greatly influenced by walleye.

"The best part of fishing walleye is that it's a year round activity in this area," Studders said.

He spends all year traveling around Michigan looking for different species of fish, but at home he has his eye on walleye.

Studders said a proposed change to the commercial fishing statute could threaten that.

The change would permit commercial fishermen to keep a small amount of walleye for profit.

"I just think it's too big of a risk to take," Studders said.

Fishermen and DNR representatives met Wednesday night in Bangor Township to discuss the proposed change.

Randy Claramunt, Lake Huron Basin coordinator for the DNR, said the impact wouldn't be as dramatic as some fear.

"On average there's 2.5 million walleye in the greater Saginaw Bay area. The recreational fishermen harvests about 150,000. With this allowance we're looking at about 25,000 as a theoretical max," Claramunt said.

Even with those limits local fishermen worry it could have a dramatic affect on the tourism and recreation fueled economy.

Jeff Godi is a charter captain on the Saginaw Bay. Much of his work revolves around walleye and he doesn't want to see the population depleted.

"I think we're all thinking if they take too many fish and the walleye population suffers, we'd see a rebound with interest in the Saginaw Bay area," Godi said.

The change is still in the proposal phase. Members of the DNR are traveling around the state to talk to local fishermen. Then the change would be introduced as a bill.

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