DNR's new zone plan would phase out commercial fishermen
DNR's New Zone Plan Would Phase Out Commercial Fisherman By CLINT DUNATHAN "Let them eat cake," said Marie Antoinette to the "people of France when they asked for bread. "Let them eat cohos," says the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to Michigan residents who would like, some perch, walleyes, whitefish . or lake trout. Things are happening fast in the DNR's program to convert the Great Lakes waters over which Michigan has control into "a sports fishermen's paradise." So fast in fact that some: legislators — including Charles j H. Varnum of Manistique and Russell Hellman of Dollar Bay _ asked the DNR Commission for a stay of execution on. the; commercial fishing industry. The Commission has delayed Its decision for 30 days on a proposed zone management plan to further restrict the commercial commercial fishermen. The delay, says the DNR, is "out of concern for the economic well being of commercial commercial fishermen who would be phased out of business under the program." Aside from the commercial fishermen who are being "phased out" as it is so delicately phrased, there was no expression of concern at the recent DNR hearing in Lansing for the consumer who would like to he able to buy some fresh Great Lakes food fish for his table. While the latest fish management plan was being polished up in Lansing by the DNR, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Royer at Gladstone were nearing the end of their 27 years in the wholesale-retail fish business. They put this notice in the Daily Press: "Due to the drastic conditions brought on by the Department of Natural (Resources against the commercial fishing industry, we have been prompted to close our operation." The Gladstone Fisheries will continue, however, with James Moore of Isabella who took over on Oct. 25. He's going to take a try at getting enough fish to operate the market, but as Royer points out, he'll have to travel farther and farther to get them. :"At-one., time I employed 36 women - -at this plant in processing fish for the restaurant and supper club trade, as well as for retail sale," .said. Royer. "Escanaba also had several fish buyers." There - are none now in Escanaba, but over at Garden William "BuT Hermes (along with" other Garden Peninsula commercial fishermen) are taking a look at the new proposals and wondering — what next? ."If we go with . that (the closing of Big Bay de Noc) we'll be out of business," said Hermes. Hermes. ."Who will catch the .fish and supply the market? In the last two days, with one boat, we brought in between 5,000 and 6, : 000 pounds of whitefish." Whitefish, if you don't know it, are not sports fish and they are. not taken by hook arid line anglers — but they are a prime food fish for the market. If commercial fishermen cannot take them from Big Bay de Noc, then- the public xvill have none, of them for its table. The whitefish will go unharvested, contradicting all of the DNR's theories about wise utilization of our natural resources. Hermes is in the same boat with about 11 other licensed fishermen on the Garden Peninsula. About 20 men are employed in the business and they have about 65 dependents. "We're a fishing family, even back in the Old Country" said Hermes. "I'm 44 years old and about the youngest one in fishing anymore." Like many fishermen who suffer injuries in the business, he has some fingers missing on one hand. "All I've ever done is fish," he said. James Dotsch of Garden, former state senator, who is as much interested as anyone in what happens to Michigan's resources, attended the DNR hearing in Lansing with Hermes. Hermes. He was critical of the way it was arranged. "They had all of the big sports fishing tackle companies there and they made it sound like the sports fishing interest was the only one in the world," said Dotsch. There is clean water and good fish up here and perch and Spearheads Drive To Put More Timber On Market State Representative Russell Hellman of Dollar Bay, concerned concerned about the woods workers and employment opportunities in By the sale of this 50,000 cords, it is estimated that approximately approximately 135 new jobs will be created in the U.P. and that whifefish should be taken for market. "Big Bay de Noc is jnot coho waters but. they are going to close it anyway." It isn't as if the commercial fishermen have not been cooperative, said Dotsch. They have been in agreement with the closing of bays in the past and have gone along on other regulations and have made some recommendations of their own. Alfred "Buck" LaVallee of Garden, in the commercial fishing business for 38 years before selling to Bill Hermes, has background and knowledge to draw on in any discussion of fishing regulations. "The}' are cutting back on the number of commercial licenses to pxove a theory, not because there are no fish to catch," he said. "Closing big Bay de Noc will do nothing except stop the production of fish for the market — and I'm talking about whitefish, which are certainly not game fish." "When the bays are entirely closed off, you won't be able to buy a fresh fish from this area," he added. As for cohos, LaVallee wonders wonders if as many sports fishermen fishermen are interested as the DNR had predicted. "At Carp River near St. Ignace they couldn't get a crowd out for the run and even with the publicity about the run at the Whitefish River you don't see many fishermen there." Roy A. Jensen, Escanaba, secretary of the Michigan Fish Producers, also attended the recent DNR hearing in Lansing to add his voice to those who believe that the public likes to eat fish and there should be commercial fishermen to supply the market. "Local people want fish, tourists and visitors to Michigan want fish, but if the DNR has its way the fish will have to come from other states or Canada," he said. The clamp down on commercial commercial fishing has reduced the number of licenses in Michigan from 600 In 1968 to 449 in 1969 and under license changes approved by the DNft earlier this year the number will be under 200 in 1970, said Jensen. Michigan is doing the salmon planting — but Canadian commercial fishermen can take any amount of cohos in any manner at any season. In the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan cohos are being netted under permit and marketed when the flesh is good — not when the fish are on their last- gasp spawning run.