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Michigan Fish Producers Association says it's settled lawsuit with DNR

Kelly House
Bridge Michigan

The Michigan Fish Producers association has said its class-action lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources has reached a settlement. Details of the settlement have yet to be made public.

The fish producers association sued the DNR over regulations that producers claimed interfered with their livelihoods.

Michael Perry is an attorney who represents the association. Although the settlement amount is still undisclosed, Perry said commercial fishers are satisfied with it.

"The association's board of directors, members who participated in that were pleased with the result of the mediation," said Perry.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is responsible for not only managing Michigan’s fish populations, but also with with enforcing state commercial regulations and issuing permits to fisheries.

This has created a decades-old tension between the DNR and the commercial fishing industry.

And this tension rose further in early 2021 when the DNR issued fishery order 243. Fishers said its regulations hurt their ability to make a living.

The order restricted commercial fishers from casting their nets deeper than 80 feet, and it ended the commercial fishing season on October 1. For decades the season ended in November.

"As long as I can remember, it ends November 1," said Cameron McMurry, vice president of the Michigan Fish Producers Association and owner of Big Stone Bay Fishery in Mackinac City. "You catch a lot of fish in October, because they move in shallower. And over the years with climate change, all the invasive species, fish hang out a lot deeper than 80 feet these days," McMurry added.

The DNR eventually reversed fishery order 243 soon after the lawsuit was filed.

Perry said the settlement agreement will likely be officially disclosed by the Michigan Court of Claims later this month. The Michigan DNR said it's withholding comment until the legal process is complete.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.
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