The statement of scope for this rule, SS 004-18 was approved by the Governor on January 23, 2018, published in Register No. 745B on January 29, 2018, and approved by the Natural Resources Board on April 11, 2018. This rule was approved by the Governor on December 19, 2019.
ORDER OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD
REPEALING, AMENDING, REPEALING AND RECREATING AND CREATING RULES
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board proposes an order to repeal NR 25.13 (2) (d); to amend NR 25.05 (1) (a), (c), and (h), 25.06 (title), 25.06 (1) (b) 2., 25.06 (3) (g), 25.09 (1) (am) 3. b., 25.09 (1) (b) 5., 25.09 (1) (b) 9., 25.10 (1) (b) 1., 25.10 (1) (b) 3. and 4., 25.10 (1) (b) 6. and 9., 25.10 (1) (c), 25.13 (1) (a); to repeal and recreate NR 25.06 (1) (a); and to create NR 25.02 (2m), 25.02 (69m), 25.06 (1) (am), 25.06 (1) (b) 3., 4. and 5., 25.06 (3) (h), 25.09 (1) (bm), 25.09 (1) (d), 25.09 (1) (e), 25.10 (1) (b) 2. (title), 25.10 (1) (b) 5. (title), 25.10 (1) (b) 10. and 25.10 (1) (d) relating to harvest management regulations in the Lake Superior fishery and affecting small business.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Natural Resources
1. Statute Interpreted: Sections 29.014 (1), 29.041 and 29.053 (2), Wis. Stats. have been interpreted as authorizing the department to conserve the fish supply on waters of the state while continuing to provide good opportunities for fishing. Section 29.519 is interpreted as allowing the department to regulate commercial fish harvest. 2. Statutory Authority: Sections 29.014 (1), 29.041, 29.053 (2), and 29.519, Wis. Stats. authorize the promulgation of this rule. All rules promulgated under this authority are subject to review under ch. 227, Stats. 3. Explanation of Agency Authority: Under s. 29.014 (1), Stats., “Rule-making for this chapter,” the department is directed to establish and maintain conditions governing the taking of fish that will conserve the fish supply and ensure the citizens of this state continued opportunities for good fishing. The department is authorized to regulate fishing on and in all interstate boundary waters and outlying waters by s. 29.041, Stats., “Department to regulate hunting and fishing in interstate waters.” Provisions of s. 29.053 (2), Stats., “Specific open and closed seasons,” provide that the department may establish conditions governing the taking of fish for the state as a whole, for counties or parts of counties, or for waterbodies or parts of waterbodies. Under s. 29.519, Stats., “Commercial fishing in outlying waters,” the department is granted discretion to establish commercial fish species harvest limits after giving due consideration to the recommendations made by the commercial fishing boards, and to promulgate rules relating to quota allocations. This section also specifies that the limitations on harvests must be based on the available harvestable population of fish and on the wise use and conservation of the fish, so as to prevent overexploitation. In addition, this section grants the department the authority to designate areas where commercial fishing is restricted, as well as to establish restrictions on the types and sizes of gear used in commercial fishing. In addition, the 1972 Gurnoe Decision (State v. Gurnoe, 53 Wis. 2d 390 (1972)) established that the Lake Superior Chippewa tribes reserved the right to fish in Lake Superior as part of their treaties with the United States government. To ensure coordinated management of this shared resource, the state and Red Cliff and Bad River bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribes negotiate the terms of the Lake Superior Fishing Agreement approximately every 10 years.
4. Related Statutes or Rules: The department promulgated emergency rule FH-01-18(E) and is in the process of promulgating permanent rule FH-02-18, to implement new regulations for the 2018-19 commercial fishing seasons.
5. Plain Language Analysis:
Similar to permanent rule FH-02-18, this rule modifies commercial fishing regulations for Lake Superior, including harvest allocations, reporting requirements, restricted areas, equipment regulations, data sharing and other similar provisions. These regulations aim to maintain healthy target and non-target fish populations while balancing the needs of resource users, including state and tribal commercial fishers, tribal home use fishers and state recreational anglers. This rule will allow the department to allocate the total allowable harvest of lake trout in a more equitable manner for state commercial and recreational fishers. This rule will also standardize net placement, use and marking requirements between state and tribal fishers, which will enhance net visibility and safe navigation for all fishers. The rule also proposes a variety of minor changes to increase clarity and consistency of administrative code. Together, these changes will continue to provide good commercial fishing opportunities while maintaining the strong game fish fishery of Lake Superior.
The 2018 – 2028 Lake Superior Fishing Agreement serves as the foundation for this rule. The Lake Superior Fishing Agreement reflects a commitment between the state and the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa to cooperatively manage the shared Lake Superior fishery through agreed-upon harvest limits, allocations and other management tools. The agreement provides tribal, commercial and recreational harvest opportunities while protecting the Lake Superior fishery. According to the agreement, the goal of all parties is to maintain a healthy Lake Superior ecosystem that supports fish populations and fisheries and is managed through sound science. This is accomplished through regulations enacted by each party participating in the agreement.
A permanent rule, FH-02-18, containing these regulations and several minor updates is currently under review.
SECTIONS 1 and 11 establish a definition for catch-per-unit-of-effort (CPE), which is an index of measurement for fish species abundance that is used determine allowable harvest for a given species, and remove duplicative language from s. NR 25.06.
SECTION 2 defines Wisconsin Statistical Districts WI-1 and WI-2, which are the two fisheries management zones in Lake Superior.
SECTION 3 outlines the periods within the open seasons for lake trout and whitefish in Lake Superior.
SECTIONS 4 and 5 restructure the paragraph that establishes a total allowable harvest limit for lake trout. While the overall quotas remain the same, these sections revise the allocation between state and tribal fishers in WI-1 and WI-2 to be more equitable within each zone.
SECTION 6 moves to a new paragraph the existing provision that the department may recall lake trout tags if a quota reduction is necessary.
SECTION 7 specifies that no parts of gill nets placed for tribal home use fishing activities may extend more than 1,320 feet from the shoreline adjacent to a tribal reservation during the closed season for lake trout.
SECTION 8 revises regulations for tribal home use fishing nets that differentiate between commercial and home use fishing, require harvest reporting, and establish net mesh size requirements.
SECTION 9 clarifies that commercial fishers may not possess tags from any jurisdiction other than Wisconsin.
SECTION 10 requires that all unused lean lake trout tags be returned to the department following the close of the lake trout fishing season.
SECTION 12 requires removal of entrapment net material, referred to as webbing, from the water within 3 days of the close of the season instead of 14 days.
SECTION 13 describes the requirements for trap net use in WI-1, specifying that only cisco, whitefish and lake trout no larger than 25 inches may be harvested during periods 2 and 3 of the season.
SECTION 14 creates standard requirements for all fishing gear, specifying that nets must be set at least ¼ mile from one another, and all nets must begin actively fishing within 24 hours of placement.