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State Senate approves commercial fishing bill

LANSING — The Michigan Senate has unanimously approved legislation that would update parts of the state’s commercial fishing law, which has not been reformed in 50 years and which has resulted in the Department of Natural Resources adopting problematic policies to regulate the industry.

Under the current law, the DNR director has managed commercial fishing in the state by rule and order for decades, said Sen. Ed McBroom, the sponsor of Senate Bill 251, bypassing the Legislature and issuing regulations that have resulted in conflicts and questions.

“It is past time to address some of the issues that have arisen over the years with department bureaucrats using near total control over our state’s commercial fishing industry,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “Various department actions over the last half-century, and most recently in the fall of 2020, have often left commercial fishing operations unsure of where they stand with questions on what is or isn’t permitted at any given time. With the approval of this bill, we’re moving to change the law to maintain the status quo for commercial fishing operations with some policies that both sides seem to agree are wise reforms to the actual law.”

The bill would put into law several updates to reflect items currently addressed through fisheries orders, including fishing depths, season dates and use of certain equipment.

“The committee process worked very well as we fine-tuned SB 251 with both sides of this debate to coalesce around these changes, which is shown by unanimous approval by my Senate colleagues,” McBroom said. “I appreciate the department working with us on this legislation and look forward to it becoming law soon.”

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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