Commercial large mesh gill net fishery study proposed for Lake Michigan

Public meetings set for early December in Green Bay and Cleveland

GREEN BAY — Proposed research to understand the potential benefits and impacts of commercial fishers using large mesh gill nets to catch whitefish on Lake Michigan is the topic of public meetings set for Dec. 5 in Green Bay and Dec. 7 in Cleveland, Wis.

Currently, such large mesh gill nets are allowed in Wisconsin Lake Michigan waters north of Bailey’s Harbor and in Green Bay but are not allowed south of Bailey’s Harbor due to concerns about the potential impact they may have on other game fish through unintentional bycatch and mortality and user conflicts.

Lake Michigan commercial fishing zones.  Click on image for larger size. - Photo Credit: DNR
Lake Michigan commercial fishing zones. Click on image for larger size.
Photo Credit: DNR

Commercial fishers have requested the ability to use large mesh gill nets south of Bailey’s Harbor to more efficiently harvest their whitefish quota and the Department of Natural Resources is open to considering a large mesh gill net study in this area, says Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes district supervisor.

“This study would help determine if commercial fishers can more safely and efficiently meet their quotas for whitefish and save on their costs without impacting other fish and sport anglers,” Eggold says.

The primary target of current commercial fishers in Lake Michigan is lake whitefish, and a lake whitefish harvest quota is established that encourages sustainable fisheries for current and future generations.

“We are committed to working collaboratively with commercial, charter, and recreational fishers to assess and develop management strategies that promote the efficient and effective shared and wise use of Lake Michigan public trust resources,” Eggold says.

Public input gathered at the two December meetings will help DNR develop benchmarks, criteria, and goals that will be incorporated into a potential large mesh gill net study and assessment.

Currently, the study is proposed to fully assess the potential to enhance commercial fishing efficiency and the impacts it may have on fisheries other than whitefish. Large mesh gill nets would be allowed south of Bailey’s Harbor during the study period, Eggold says.

December public meeting details

All interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend one of two public meetings.

  • Dec. 5, Green Bay, 5-7 p.m. during the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board at the DNR Service Center – Lake Michigan Room, 2984 Shawano Ave.
  • Dec. 7, Cleveland, 6-8 p.m. during the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum at Lakeshore Technical College, Wells Fargo Room, 1290 North Ave.

If interested stakeholders are unable to attend either of these meetings and would like to comment on this potential study, please submit your comments to DNRLAKEMICHIGANPLAN@wisconsin.gov before Dec. 10, 2017.

For more information, questions or comments contact Bradley Eggold (414-382-7921, Bradley.Eggold@wisconsin.gov or Todd Kalish (608-266-5285, Todd.Kalish@wisconsin.gov).