MADISON - To increase and broaden public input on statewide fisheries issues and facilitate dialogue between various fisheries interests, the Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress are forming a new fisheries advisory group that meets for the first time on March 29. The new group, called the Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council, will bring together representatives from diverse statewide fishing groups as well as representatives from the fishing business community and tourism.
In addition to groups such as Walleyes for Tomorrow and Trout Unlimited, angling groups aimed at bringing new people to fishing will be represented as well, including Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Wisconsin Women Fish, and the Hmong American Sportsmen Club. The group will advise DNR's fisheries management board and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress on statewide issues including DNR's long-term fisheries plan, biennial budgeting, and balancing angling groups' sometimes competing desires and priorities for their favorite fish species, says Mike Staggs, DNR's fisheries director "We are excited about the opportunity to expand public involvement in our fisheries program from a statewide perspective," he says.
He notes that DNR fish biologists and hatchery staff work often with local fishing clubs on issues concerning fisheries in a specific lake or river, and with statewide groups like Trout Unlimited and the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin on issues specific to the group's favored fish species. "The idea is to get people who represent a cross-section of our users to help us try to balance all of the different and competing priorities of these groups and make the wisest use of our staff and resources," he says.
The advisory group will be led and facilitated jointly by DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. The WCC is statutorily defined as an advisory body on fish and wildlife management and conservation issues to the Natural Resources Board, and has worked closely for more than 80 years with DNR's fisheries and wildlife management programs on statewide and local issues.
Congress Chairman Rob Bohmann says the Congress has worked with DNR fisheries staff over the last six months to develop the council proposal, and will continue to work through the summer to identify and contact potential memberships. "We see the Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council as an excellent opportunity to engage organized fisheries interests around the state in addressing statewide fisheries issues and helping the Congress fulfill its statutory mission."
The first council meeting will be held March 29, 2014. Agenda items for the first meeting include a review and discussion of current statewide fisheries issues and statewide planning efforts for panfish, trout, sturgeon, walleye, and public outreach.
Note: WCSFO has been asked to participate in the Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council.