Fish possession limit changed

Lansing, Mich. — Late last month, HB 5481 cleared both the state
House and Senate and was sent to the Governor’s office for final
approval. The bill allows anglers to possess, in addition to one
day’s limit of fish, an additional two days’ possession limit of
fish that are either frozen, canned in a sealed container, or cured
by smoking or drying. The legislation further states that a
person’s processed fish aboard a vessel, on the water or at
dockside, will be considered as part of the additional two day’s
possession limit.

This clears up a long-standing misconception on the legal limit
of fish a person can possess. Anglers naturally assumed they could
possess more than one day’s limit. Catch five walleyes one day,
take them home and put them in the freezer, and be back on the
water the next day, right? Not under the current regulations
spelled out in the Michigan Fishing Guide, which say that the daily
limit and the possession limit are the same. Catch five walleyes
and you better eat one of them before you catch another or,
technically, you’re be in violation of the law.

Last summer in this space I explained the DNRE Law Division’s
interpretation of the law. Lt. Andrew Turner explained that the
possession limit is really geared toward people in the field.

“If you’re at a campsite on a rural lake and have more than
(five walleyes) in your cooler, then you would be in violation. But
if you bring them home and put them in the freezer, we view that as
a different scenario,” he said at the time. “Contrary to what some
people believe, we’re not in the business of kicking down people’s
doors and searching their freezers to see how many fish they have
in there.”

Cool, but technically, you’d still be violating the letter of
the law.

Now the air has been cleared and everyone is on the same page –
legally and technically. Well, almost. The only bad part of the
legislation is that it was approved by the legislature too late to
take effect this year and won’t be implemented until April 1,
2011.

I hope COs continue use discretion when enforcing the current
regulations for the remainder of the 2010 fishing season, and
there’s no reason to think they won’t. On the other hand, don’t
push your luck.

ANOTHER PIECE OF LEGISLATION that has been introduced in Lansing
makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. HB 5734 would allow
the DNRE to annually auction five bear permits and five elk permits
– both limited tag drawings – to, get this, the highest
bidders.

Essentially, they’d be auctioned off to wealthy residents and
“Joe Hunter,” who makes an average living by toiling at a daily 9-5
job to make ends meet for his/her family, would be left out of the
loop. To make matters worse, removing those licenses from the
overall pool of available tags would reduce further the odds of
“Joe Hunter” ever getting an elk tag.

As it stands now, it take five or six years to accumulate enough
preference points to get a bear tag for some areas, and tens of
thousands of hunters will continue to apply for an elk permit from
now until they die and never receive one.

Implement this rich-man’s lottery and those chances get even
slimmer.

Categories: Michigan – Bill Parker

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