October 19, 2012

DNR Proposes to Double Daily Limit for Brook Trout Despite Opposition by Fisheries Division and UP Anglers

Sierra Club Calls for Public Input and Proposal Put on Hold
Media Contact: Marvin Roberson, marvin.roberson@sierraclub.org, 906-360-0288

The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter today called on Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh to put a hold on a proposed doubling of the limit for brook trout in 10 streams in the Upper Peninsula.  The agency announced a proposal to change designation of the streams to a new category that would allow the taking of 10 brook trout per day per person. The current limit of five per person in the both the Upper and lower peninsula has been in place for more than a decade.

The DNR proposal comes even though its own Fisheries Division repeatedly indicated to the Natural Resources Commission that they were opposed to changing the limit.  In addition, a large majority of the Coldwater Resources Steering Committee voted to support the Fisheries Division position in their August meeting. This committee is comprised of various stakeholder groups and charged with advising the DNR on coldwater fisheries-related matters.

In addition, a DNR survey of UP anglers last summer indicated strong support for keeping the limit at five. The department asked anglers to rate their level of support for the existing five brook trout daily possession limit and the proposed 10 fish daily possession limit --  55% of respondents indicated they supported the existing limit, compared to 17% that opposed the five fish limit. By comparison, 28% of anglers supported and 53% opposed the 10 fish daily possession limit.

“There is little biological evidence regarding how many brook trout can be kept without harming sustainable population levels,” says Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Forest Ecologist. “There is absolutely no scientific reason that these limits should be different in the UP from the Lower Peninsula.”

For many years, the fishing regulations for keeping brook trout have been simple--five fish per day per person--but recently, a small but vocal minority of UP residents including the two Natural Resource Commissioners began agitating for the limit to be raised to 10 fish per day per person in the UP only.

With no notice to the public, the Coldwater Resources Steering Committee or stakeholders, the DNR announced on Oct. 15 a proposal to designate 10 streams in the UP in a new category allowing 10 brook trout per day per person. The decision is proposed for Nov. 8, a little more than 3 weeks after the announcement, with no opportunity for public comment.

“To make matters worse, the proposal indicates research on the effects of the regulations will commence after the regulations are changed,” said Roberson. “The DNR has no data on current conditions, and consequently will have no ability to assess conditions and effects after the new regulations.”

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter urges DNR Director Keith Creagh to put this proposal on hold until there can be a meaningful public input and dialogue process, and until baseline data for the streams proposed can be collected and success/failure criteria developed.

The Chapter also urges concerned citizens to contact Creagh at DNR-Director@michigan.gov  or 517-373-2329 and DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter at  dexterj1@michigan.gov or 517-373-3375. Tell them to put this proposal on hold until such public input and research needs are met!