Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Law (Act 21) Delays Implementation of Important Public Safety Regulation

Poynette: Today, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation identified that a new law passed by the Wisconsin Legislature, (Act 21), which adds substantial delay and red tape in the process for adopting hunting, fishing and trapping rules will cause substantial delay in the implementation of a non-controversial sports fishing regulation designed to protect public safety while sports fishing on the Great Lakes.

In June 2010, a sports fishing boat trolling off of Sheboygan, Wisconsin sank within a minute of having its fishing lines becoming snagged on a commercial trap net in Lake Michigan, resulting in a sports anglers death and the rescue of his companions. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation along with the Wisconsin Federation of Great Lakes Sportsfishing Clubs petitioned the Department of Natural Resources to adopt regulations preventing similar tragic accidents. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board responded by adopting a simple and inexpensive Emergency Rule which required that starting in 2011 all Great Lakes sports fishing boats must have a wire cutters on board to be able to quickly cut any of their lines that become ensnared on commercial fishing nets in the Great Lakes. The cost of compliance for any sports fishing boat to have this life-saving tool is less than $10. There was no sports anglers’ opposition to this public safety regulation.

The emergency rule by law expires at the end of the 2011 sports fishing season and cannot be renewed. Under the former law governing the adoption of administrative rules, the DNR would have been able to initiate a permanent rule process and adopt a non-controversial rule for the 2011 Great Lakes sports fishing season. However due to the extensive delays and red tape built into the administrative rule adoption process by new Act 21, including a detailed economic analysis, it now takes between two and three years to adopt a permanent rule, and the wire cutter permanent rule cannot be put in place until July 2013. That is in spite of the fact that there has not been a single complaint by sports fisherman about the simple, inexpensive requirement.

“While well-intended, Act 21 has already started to cause severe problems in adopting simple hunting, fishing and trapping regulations,” indicated Chuck Matyska, (Cecil), Wildlife Federation President. “Virtually all of the many regulations governing hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin must be adopted by administrative rule and are supported by sportsmen and women and there should not be unproductive delays and bureaucracy in their adoption.”

“In this tragic situation, the Natural Resources Board came up with a simple and cheap rule that will significantly increase the safety of Great Lakes sports anglers, only to find it ensnared by the Legislature’s adoption of this new law,” stated Larry Freitag, (Sheboygan), Chair of WWF’s Great Lakes Fishing Committee. “This was a rule that was unanimously supported by both sports and commercial anglers and needs to be in effect for the 2012 sports fishing season.”

The Wildlife Federation is calling on the Governor and the Legislature to modify Act 21 to allow the adoption of non-controversial and inexpensive hunting, fishing and trapping regulations without the added red tape and delay caused by the new law.

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