St. Paul The state of Minnesota and representatives of the eight
Ojibwe bands entitled to treaty harvest in the 1837 Ceded Territory
have scheduled a mediation session for late next week.
As of Tuesday, exact dates had not been set, but the meetings
tentatively were planned for the last three days of next week,
according to Jack Wingate, DNR fisheries research supervisor in St.
Paul. He surmised that personnel from DNR Fisheries, as well as the
Attorney General and DNR Commissioner offices would be present.
“We’re having a meeting later this week to determine exactly who
we’re going to send,” Wingate said.
The primary issue for the bands has been the state’s overharvest
of walleyes on Lake Mille Lacs in 2002. The state angling quota on
the big lake this year is 300,000 pounds, and anglers have exceeded
that total by about 70,000 pounds.
Via letters and faxes, the Mille Lacs Band has objected to the
overharvest several times and requested a plan from the state
outlining how it would account for the 2002 “overage.” In an
extensive letter to the bands late last month, the DNR pitched a
new five-year plan for state anglers that included overage
protocols for future seasons. It did not, however, address the 2002
“We’d like to get other issues in place before we resolve that
one,” Wingate said last week. “And we went with the five years so
we could have a plan that jibes with the bands’ (five-year
No further discussions on the overage dispute have occurred
since a state and tribal technical committee meeting occurred Oct.
29-30 in Cloquet, Wingate said. At that meeting, the two sides
discussed data from the fall gill netting on the big lake, but they
did not resolve any of their disagreements regarding the overage or
tribal concerns with the state’s new five-year plan.
Mediation represents a ratcheting up of the “dispute resolution
process” between the state and bands. The two sides attempted
earlier this fall to resolve their disagreement via conference
The Mille Lacs Band took another 718 pounds of walleyes, as well
as 424 pounds of pike, during limited gill netting this fall on
Lake Mille Lacs. The vast majority of tribal fishing occurs during
the spring spawn prior to the state fishing opener.
Combined with the spring tribal tally, the total walleye kill
from the bands on the lake is about 54,000 pounds in 2002. The
bands had a 2002 quota of 100,000 pounds of walleyes.