Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Public Hearing - Relating to Commercial Fishing on the Mississippi River Boundary Waters

June 21 - Pursuant to §§ 23.11 (1), 29.014 (1), 29.041, 29.523, 29.526, 29.529, 29.531, 29.533 and 227.11 (2) (a), Wis. Stats., interpreting 29.014, 29.024, 29.041, 29.523, 29.526, 29.529, 29.531 and 29.533 Wis. Stats., the Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on proposed revisions to chs. NR 20, 21 and 22, Wis. Adm. Code, relating commercial fishing on the Mississippi River boundary waters at 5 p.m. in the Upstairs Community Room, City Hall, 214 E. Blackhawk Avenue, Prairie de Chien. The proposed revisions were developed in consultation with commercial fishers to address concerns regarding the lack of legal descriptions of what the varieties of nets are and inconsistency between the rules that apply to the same Wisconsin commercial fisher depending on if he or she is fishing in the waters between Wisconsin and Iowa or the waters between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This rule will benefit commercial fishers on the Mississippi river by providing clear descriptions of the nets that their licenses authorize them to use on this water and not leaving the types of nets open for a variety of interpretations. This rule will also benefit commercial fishers by creating more consistency in the rules regardless of which part of the river in Wisconsin they are fishing. The rule will be enforced by department Conservation Wardens under the authority of chapters 23 and 29, Wis. Stats., through routine patrols, record audits of commercial fishers and follow up investigations of citizen complaints. Liberalization of some of the commercial fishing rules will also benefit commercial fishers such as the higher number of hooks on setlines allowed with these changes. This is a type III action under Chapter 150, Wis. Adm. Code, and neither an environmental impact statement nor an environmental assessment is required. The revisions:

1.Amend cross references found in NR 20 and NR 21 to definitions that have been renumbered by this rule or which were incorrect.

2.Repeal and recreate the definition sections in NR 21 and NR 22. There are new definitions added to these sections, including bait net, bank pole, buffalo net, detrimental fish, drive set, drift set, frame net or fyke net, gill net, hoop net, lead, seine, seine haul, setline, slat net or basket trap and trammel nets. Several existing definitions are revised and all others are retained but have been renumbered. Unnecessary statutory references placed in parenthesis after some definitions were removed.

3.Clarify in both NR 21 and NR 22 that live carp taken for use as bait may not be transported away from any waters of the state unless specifically authorized. Such movement of live fish has been prohibited under NR 19.05 effective Nov. 2, 2007 as a result of new rules meant to reduce the risk of the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) in fish.

4.Clarify in both NR 21 and NR 22 that a licensed commercial fisher and their agents are restricted to commercial fishing only within the state boundaries of the state they are licensed under.

5.Clarify in both NR 21 and NR 22 that each person who is required to hold a commercial fishing license must be present at all times when any of his or her nets or setlines are set, placed, tended or operated, while still allowing the licensee to move commercial fish by boat or on the ice and to load commercial fish into trucks at a boat landing while the crew continues to load fish at the net. These sections also provide that a commercial fishing licensee’s fish helpers or crew members do not need to also hold a commercial fishing license when only assisting a licensed commercial fisher, but that the commercial fisher must notify the department of the names of all such helpers or crew members.

6.Repeal unnecessary references to the cost for tags issued for commercial fishing nets. These fees are established under §§ 29.523 and 29.563 (7) (c), Wis. Stats., and also clarifies that it is not legal to remove roe from a commercial fish while on the water, ice or shore, and that commercial fish shall remain intact until the fish reaches the final processing facility or place of business of the commercial fisher. This new language created in NR 21 is consistent with the current rule language found in NR 22.11(2m).

7.Clarify that either any small game or a fishing license is a valid approval for taking turtles. This change is consistent with a recent change made to s. NR 19.275 (3) (a) under clearinghouse rule CR 09-018 and which took effect March 1, 2010

8.Clarify that a person taking of turtles on the Wisconsin-Minnesota and Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters shall comply with the regulations of the state in whose territorial waters they are taking the turtles.

9.Makes the NR 22.05 (1) language consistent with the language found under NR 21, regarding the ability to sell or barter rough fish under one’s control or possession if lawfully taken during the open season by hook and line, spear or bow and arrow.

10.Clarifies in NR 22 that fishing within 200 feet of any fishway, lock or dam by any means other than hook and line is not legal. This is consistent with the restrictions found in NR 20.05 (3) and 21.065.

11.Clarifies that set or bank poles are not commercial gear on the Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters and that the same rules apply to their use on the Wisconsin portion of this water as apply to their use on non-boundary inland waters.

12.Makes a number of revisions to NR 22.11 and 22.12 so that the language in these sections is more consistent with current s. NR 21.11.

13.Removes reference to tortoises and simply refers to these animals as turtles.

14.Creates several new restrictions in NR 22.11 that currently apply to commercial fishing on the Mississippi river in the Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters in s. NR 21.11, but not to commercial fishing on the Mississippi river in the Wisconsin/Iowa boundary waters under NR 22.

15.Amends NR 22.12 commercial fishing gear restrictions to make them more consistent with the commercial gear restrictions found in NR 21. These new restrictions will provide for more consistency in the commercial fishing rules up and down the Mississippi river, as well as provide additional opportunity to use commercial fishing gear on this water.

The proposed rule and supporting documents (exit DNR), including the fiscal estimate, may be viewed and downloaded from the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website. Written comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before June 23, 2010. Written comments may be submitted by U.S. mail, fax, email, or through the Internet and will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearing. Written comments and any questions on the proposed rules should be submitted to: Thomas Van Haren, Department of Natural Resources, LE/8, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, by calling (608) 266-3244 or by e-mail at: Thomas.VanHaren@wi.gov. For more information or a copy of the proposed rule changes contact Thomas Van Haren at (608) 266-3244.

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